Structural Correlates of CA2 and CA3 Pyramidal Cell Activity in Freely-Moving Mice

J Neurosci. 2020 Jul 22;40(30):5797-5806. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0099-20.2020. Epub 2020 Jun 18.


Plasticity within hippocampal circuits is essential for memory functions. The hippocampal CA2/CA3 region is thought to be able to rapidly store incoming information by plastic modifications of synaptic weights within its recurrent network. High-frequency spike-bursts are believed to be essential for this process, by serving as triggers for synaptic plasticity. Given the diversity of CA2/CA3 pyramidal neurons, it is currently unknown whether and how burst activity, assessed in vivo during natural behavior, relates to principal cell heterogeneity. To explore this issue, we juxtacellularly recorded the activity of single CA2/CA3 neurons from freely-moving male mice, exploring a familiar environment. In line with previous work, we found that spatial and temporal activity patterns of pyramidal neurons correlated with their topographical position. Morphometric analysis revealed that neurons with a higher proportion of distal dendritic length displayed a higher tendency to fire spike-bursts. We propose that the dendritic architecture of pyramidal neurons might determine burst-firing by setting the relative amount of distal excitatory inputs from the entorhinal cortex.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT High-frequency spike-bursts are thought to serve fundamental computational roles within neural circuits. Within hippocampal circuits, spike-bursts are believed to serve as potent instructive signals, which increase the efficiency of information transfer and induce rapid modifications of synaptic efficacies. In the present study, by juxtacellularly recording and labeling single CA2/CA3 neurons in freely-moving mice, we explored whether and how burst propensity relates to pyramidal cell heterogeneity. We provide evidence that, within the CA2/CA3 region, neurons with higher proportion of distal dendritic length display a higher tendency to fire spike-bursts. Thus, the relative amount of entorhinal inputs, arriving onto the distal dendrites, might determine the burst propensity of individual CA2/CA3 neurons in vivo during natural behavior.

Keywords: hippocampus; in vivo electrophysiology; juxtacellular recordings; place cell; pyramidal neurons; spatial navigation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • CA2 Region, Hippocampal / chemistry
  • CA2 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / chemistry
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Pyramidal Cells / chemistry
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology*