Although its dense connections with other brain areas suggests that the claustrum is involved in higher-order brain functions, little is known about the properties of claustrum neurons. Using whole-cell patch clamp recordings in acute brain slices of mice, we characterized the intrinsic electrical properties of more than 300 claustral neurons and used unsupervised clustering of these properties to define distinct cell types. Differences in intrinsic properties permitted separation of interneurons (INs) from projection neurons (PNs). Five subtypes of PNs could be further identified by differences in their adaptation of action potential (AP) frequency and amplitude, as well as their AP firing variability. Injection of retrogradely transported fluorescent beads revealed that PN subtypes differed in their projection targets: one projected solely to subcortical areas while three out of the remaining four targeted cortical areas. INs expressing parvalbumin (PV), somatostatin (SST), or vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) formed a heterogenous group. PV-INs were readily distinguishable from VIP-INs and SST-INs, while the latter two were clustered together. To distinguish IN subtypes, an artificial neural network was trained to distinguish the properties of PV-INs, SST-INs, and VIP-INs, as independently identified through their expression of marker proteins. A user-friendly, machine-learning tool that uses intrinsic electrical properties to distinguish these eight different types of claustral cells was developed to facilitate implementation of our classification scheme. Systematic classification of claustrum neurons lays the foundation for future determinations of claustrum circuit function, which will advance our understanding of the role of the claustrum in brain function.
Keywords: claustrum; electrophysiology; interneurons; neuron types; projection neurons.
Copyright © 2020 Graf et al.