Diverse synaptic and dendritic mechanisms of complex spike burst generation in hippocampal CA3 pyramidal cells

Nat Commun. 2019 Apr 23;10(1):1859. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-09767-w.


Complex spike bursts (CSBs) represent a characteristic firing pattern of hippocampal pyramidal cells (PCs). In CA1PCs, CSBs are driven by regenerative dendritic plateau potentials, produced by correlated entorhinal cortical and CA3 inputs that simultaneously depolarize distal and proximal dendritic domains. However, in CA3PCs neither the generation mechanisms nor the computational role of CSBs are well elucidated. We show that CSBs are induced by dendritic Ca2+ spikes in CA3PCs. Surprisingly, the ability of CA3PCs to produce CSBs is heterogeneous, with non-uniform synaptic input-output transformation rules triggering CSBs. The heterogeneity is partly related to the topographic position of CA3PCs; we identify two ion channel types, HCN and Kv2 channels, whose proximodistal activity gradients contribute to subregion-specific modulation of CSB propensity. Our results suggest that heterogeneous dendritic integrative properties, along with previously reported synaptic connectivity gradients, define functional subpopulations of CA3PCs that may support CA3 network computations underlying associative memory processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology*
  • Animals
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cations, Divalent / metabolism
  • Dendrites / physiology
  • Male
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*
  • Rats, Wistar


  • Cations, Divalent
  • Calcium