Morphological, electrophysiological, and synaptic properties of corticocallosal pyramidal cells in the neonatal rat neocortex

Cereb Cortex. 2007 Sep;17(9):2204-13. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhl127. Epub 2006 Nov 23.


Neocortical pyramidal cells (PCs) project to various cortical and subcortical targets. In layer V, the population of thick tufted PCs (TTCs) projects to subcortical targets such as the tectum, brainstem, and spinal cord. Another population of layer V PCs projects via the corpus callosum to the contralateral neocortical hemisphere mediating information transfer between the hemispheres. This subpopulation (corticocallosally projecting cells [CCPs]) has been previously described in terms of their morphological properties, but less is known about their electrophysiological properties, and their synaptic connectivity is unknown. We studied the morphological, electrophysiological, and synaptic properties of CCPs by retrograde labeling with fluorescent microbeads in P13-P16 Wistar rats. CCPs were characterized by shorter, untufted apical dendrites, which reached only up to layers II/III, confirming previous reports. Synaptic connections between CCPs were different from those observed between TTCs, both in probability of occurrence and dynamic properties. We found that the CCP network is about 4 times less interconnected than the TTC network and the probability of release is 24% smaller, resulting in a more linear synaptic transmission. The study shows that layer V pyramidal neurons projecting to different targets form subnetworks with specialized connectivity profiles, in addition to the specialized morphological and electrophysiological intrinsic properties.

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / cytology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Corpus Callosum / cytology
  • Corpus Callosum / physiology*
  • Corpus Callosum / ultrastructure
  • Electrophysiology
  • Fluorescence
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Infrared Rays
  • Lysine / analogs & derivatives
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Neocortex / cytology
  • Neocortex / physiology*
  • Neocortex / ultrastructure
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*


  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • biocytin
  • Lysine