Cartwheel and superficial stellate cells of the dorsal cochlear nucleus of mice: intracellular recordings in slices

J Neurophysiol. 1993 May;69(5):1384-97. doi: 10.1152/jn.1993.69.5.1384.


1. Intracellular recordings were made from identified cartwheel and stellate cells in the molecular and fusiform cell layers of the murine dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN). The aim of the study was to identify and characterize their synaptic inputs and to learn how synaptic inputs and intrinsic electrical properties interact to generate firing patterns. 2. Eight cells labeled by the intracellular injection of biocytin were cartwheel cells. Their axon terminals extended from the deep part of the molecular layer through the fusiform cell layer. Their dendrites extended through the molecular layer and had spines. Both the dendritic and axonal arbors were small, having diameters of approximately 150 microns in the parasagittal plane. 3. When depolarized, cartwheel cells often fired bursts of rapid action potentials superimposed on a slow depolarization. The peaks of action potentials were usually overshooting. Individually occurring action potentials were followed by two afterhyperpolarizations, as in other cells of the DCN. During bursts, action potentials did not have two distinct repolarizing phases. 4. Excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) were recorded from cartwheel cells spontaneously and after shocks to the nerve root or to the ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN). The EPSPs rose slowly. When they were suprathreshold they evoked action potentials singly or in bursts. EPSPs evoked by shocks to the nerve root or to the VCN had long latencies, the rise of EPSPs beginning between 5 and 10 ms after the shock. No inhibitory synaptic potentials, either spontaneous or driven with electrical stimulation, were detected in cells whose resting potentials were between -50 and -70 mV. 5. The locations from which excitatory input can be driven electrically are consistent with cartwheel cells receiving excitatory synaptic input from granule cells. 6. One labeled cell was a superficial stellate cell. It had smooth, straight dendrites that radiated parallel to the layers of the DCN; its axonal arbor was also planar and was restricted to the molecular layer. Both the dendritic and axonal arbors of this stellate cell were large, > 500 microns diam in the parasagittal plane. 7. The superficial stellate cell fired trains of action potentials at regular intervals that, like other cells of the DCN, were overshooting and were followed by double undershoots. 8. Shocks to the nerve root and to the surface of the VCN evoked EPSPs after 3.5 and 2 ms, respectively, in the superficial stellate cell. Chemical stimulation of the VCN also evoked excitation. No inhibitory synaptic input, spontaneous or driven, was detected.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Auditory Pathways / physiology
  • Cochlear Nerve / physiology*
  • Culture Techniques
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Membrane Potentials / physiology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred CBA
  • Spinal Nerve Roots / physiology
  • Superior Colliculi / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission