The striatum is the principal input structure of the basal ganglia. Major glutamatergic afferents to the striatum come from the cerebral cortex and make monosynaptic contacts with medium spiny projection neurons (MSNs) and interneurons. Also: glutamatergic afferents to the striatum come from the thalamus. Despite differences in axonal projections, dopamine (DA) receptors expression and differences in excitability between MSNs from "direct" and "indirect" basal ganglia pathways, these neuronal classes have been thought as electrophysiologically very similar. Based on work with bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) transgenic mice, here it is shown that corticostriatal responses in D(1)- and D(2)-receptor expressing MSNs (D(1)- and D(2)-MSNs) are radically different so as to establish an electrophysiological footprint that readily differentiates between them. Experiments in BAC mice allowed us to predict, with high probability (P > 0.9), in rats or non-BAC mice, whether a recorded neuron, from rat or mouse, was going to be substance P or enkephalin (ENK) immunoreactive. Responses are more prolonged and evoke more action potentials in D(1)-MSNs, while they are briefer and exhibit intrinsic autoregenerative responses in D(2)-MSNs. A main cause for these differences was the interaction of intrinsic properties with the inhibitory contribution in each response. Inhibition always depressed corticostriatal depolarization in D(2)-MSNs, while it helped in sustaining prolonged depolarizations in D(1)-MSNs, in spite of depressing early discharge. Corticostriatal responses changed dramatically after striatal DA depletion in 6-hydroxy-dopamine (6-OHDA) lesioned animals: a response reduction was seen in substance P (SP)+ MSNs whereas an enhanced response was seen in ENK+ MSNs. The end result was that differences in the responses were greatly diminished after DA depletion.
Keywords: 6-hydroxy-dopamine; GABAA receptors; Parkinson disease; basal ganglia; corticostriatal pathway; medium spiny neurons; strionigral pathway; striopallidal pathway.