Striatal output pathways are known to play a crucial role in the control of movement. One possible component for shaping the synaptic output of striatal neuron is the glutamatergic input that originates from cortex and thalamus. Although reports focusing on quantifying glutamatergic-induced morphological changes in striatum exist, the role of glutamatergic input in regulating striatal function remains poorly understood. Using primary neurons from newborn mice of either sex in a reduced two-neuron microcircuit culture system, we examined whether glutamatergic input modulates the output of striatal neurons. We found that glutamatergic input enhanced striatal inhibition in vitro With a glutamatergic partner from either cortex or thalamus, we attributed this potentiation to an increase in the size of quantal IPSC, suggesting a strengthening of the postsynaptic response to GABAergic signaling. Additionally, a differential effect of cortical and thalamic innervation onto striatal GABAergic neurons output was revealed. We observed that cortical, but not thalamic input, enhanced the number of releasable GABAergic synaptic vesicles and morphological synapses. Importantly, these alterations were reverted by blockade of neuronal activity and glutamate receptors, as well as disruption of BDNF-TrkB signaling. Together, our data indicate, for first time, that GABAergic synapse formation in corticostriatal pairs depends on two parallel, but potentially intersecting, signaling pathways that involve glutamate receptor activation in striatal neurons, as well as BDNF signaling. Understanding how cortical and thalamic inputs refine striatal output will pave the way toward dissecting basal ganglia activity in both physiological and pathological conditions.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Striatal GABAergic microcircuits are critical for motor function. However, the mechanisms controlling striatal output, particularly at the level of synaptic strength, are unclear. Using two-neuron culture system, we quantified the synaptic output of individual striatal GABAergic neurons paired with a glutamatergic partner and studied the influence of the excitatory connections that are known to be interregionally formed in vivo We found that glutamatergic input potentiated striatal inhibitory output, potentially involving an increased feedback and/or feedforward inhibition. Moreover, distinct components of glutamatergic innervation, such as firing activity or release of neurotrophic factors were shown to be required for the glutamatergic-induced phenotype. Investigation, therefore, of two-neuron in vitro microcircuits could be a powerful tool to explore synaptic mechanisms or disease pathophysiology.
Keywords: BDNF; GABAergic neuron; cell culture; excitatory input; paired recordings; striatum.
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