Characterization of Panglial Gap Junction Networks in the Thalamus, Neocortex, and Hippocampus Reveals a Unique Population of Glial Cells

Cereb Cortex. 2015 Oct;25(10):3420-33. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhu157. Epub 2014 Jul 17.


The thalamus plays important roles as a relay station for sensory information in the central nervous system (CNS). Although thalamic glial cells participate in this activity, little is known about their properties. In this study, we characterized the formation of coupled networks between astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the murine ventrobasal thalamus and compared these properties with those in the hippocampus and cortex. Biocytin filling of individual astrocytes or oligodendrocytes revealed large panglial networks in all 3 gray matter regions. Combined analyses of mice with cell type-specific deletion of connexins (Cxs), semiquantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and western blotting showed that Cx30 is the dominant astrocytic Cx in the thalamus. Many thalamic astrocytes even lack expression of Cx43, while in the hippocampus astrocytic coupling is dominated by Cx43. Deletion of Cx30 and Cx47 led to complete loss of panglial coupling, which was restored when one allele of either Cxs was present. Immunohistochemistry revealed a unique antigen profile of thalamic glia and identified an intermediate cell type expressing both Olig2 and Cx43. Our findings further the emerging concept of glial heterogeneity across brain regions.

Keywords: astrocytes; connexin; genetic deletion; heterogeneity; oligodendrocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / metabolism*
  • Connexin 30
  • Connexin 43 / metabolism*
  • Connexins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Neocortex / cytology
  • Neocortex / metabolism*
  • Nerve Net / cytology
  • Nerve Net / metabolism
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism*
  • Thalamus / cytology
  • Thalamus / metabolism*


  • Connexin 30
  • Connexin 43
  • Connexins
  • Gjb6 protein, mouse