The strength and variability of electrical synaptic connections between GABAergic interneurons are key determinants of spike synchrony within neuronal networks. However, little is known about how electrical coupling strength is determined due to the inaccessibility of gap junctions on the dendritic tree. We investigated the properties of gap junctions in cerebellar interneurons by combining paired somato-somatic and somato-dendritic recordings, anatomical reconstructions, immunohistochemistry, electron microscopy, and modeling. By fitting detailed compartmental models of Golgi cells to their somato-dendritic voltage responses, we determined their passive electrical properties and the mean gap junction conductance (0.9 nS). Connexin36 immunofluorescence and freeze-fracture replica immunogold labeling revealed a large variability in gap junction size and that only 18% of the 340 channels are open in each plaque. Our results establish that the number of gap junctions per connection is the main determinant of both the strength and variability in electrical coupling between Golgi cells.
Keywords: cerebellum; connexin36; dendrites; electrical synapses; gap junctions; immunolocalization; interneuron.
Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.