Mammalian cortex contains a diversity of inhibitory neuron types, each with distinct morphological, immunochemical, and/or physiological properties. In rat cortex, chemical markers distinguish at least four distinct and nonoverlapping neuron classes based on expression of parvalbumin (PV), somatostatin (SST), calretinin (CR), and cholecystokinin (CCK). It has generally been assumed that these classifications should also apply to other rodent species. In mouse cortex, however, we found significant colocalization of SST and CR in inhibitory neurons; about 30% of SST-positive cells contained CR, and about 33% of CR-positive cells contained SST across frontal, somatosensory (S1), and visual cortex (V1). The SST and CR colocalized cells were concentrated in layer 2/3. We further characterized morphological and physiological properties of the mouse cortical inhibitory neuron types that express SST by using "GIN" transgenic mice, in which GFP is expressed in a subset of SST inhibitory neurons (see Oliva et al.  J Neurosci 20:3354-3368). Generally, both SST/CR+ cells and SST/CR- cells exhibited morphological features of Martinotti cells as described in rat cortex, and they also had similar accommodating spike-firing patterns. However, they differed significantly in quantitative comparisons of morphology and spike shapes. SST/CR+ cells had more horizontally extended dendritic fields and more primary process than did SST/CR- cells; and SST/CR- cells had narrower action potential widths and faster afterhyperpolarization than did SST/CR+ cells. Thus, our data show an important species difference in the chemical distinction of inhibitory neuron subtypes, and indicate that colocalization of CR in SST cells correlates with different morphological and physiological features.
(c) 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.