Principles of connectivity among morphologically defined cell types in adult neocortex
Published Date:Nov 27 2015
Pubmed Central ID:PMC4809866
Funding:DP1 EY023176/EY/NEI NIH HHS/United States
DP1 OD008301/OD/NIH HHS/United States
DP1EY023176/DP/NCCDPHP CDC HHS/United States
DP1OD008301/OD/NIH HHS/United States
F30MH095440/MH/NIMH NIH HHS/United States
P30EY002520/EY/NEI NIH HHS/United States
R21 EB016223/EB/NIBIB NIH HHS/United States
R21EB016223/EB/NIBIB NIH HHS/United States
T32EB006350/EB/NIBIB NIH HHS/United States
T32EY07001/EY/NEI NIH HHS/United States
T32GM007330/GM/NIGMS NIH HHS/United States
The intricate microcircuitry of the cerebral cortex is thought to be a critical substrate from which arise the impressive capabilities of the mammalian brain. Until now, our knowledge of the stereotypical connectivity in neocortical microcircuits has been pieced together from individual studies of the connectivity between small numbers of neuronal cell types. Here, we provide unbiased, large-scale profiling of neuronal cell types and connections to reveal the essential building blocks of the cortex and the principles governing their assembly into cortical circuits. Using advanced techniques for tissue slicing, multiple simultaneous whole-cell recording, and morphological reconstruction, we are able to provide a comprehensive view of the connectivity between diverse types of neurons, particularly among types of γ-aminobutyric acid–releasing (GABAergic) interneurons, in the adult animal.
We took advantage of a method for preparing high-quality slices of adult tissue and combined this technique with octuple simultaneous, whole-cell recordings followed by an improved staining method that allowed detailed recovery of axonal and dendritic arbor morphology. These data allowed us to perform a census of morphologically and electrophysiologically defined neuronal types (primarily GABAergic interneurons) in neocortical layers 1, 2/3, and 5 (L1, L23, and L5, respectively) and to observe their connectivity patterns in adult animals.
Our large-scale, comprehensive profiling of neocortical neurons differentiated 15 major types of interneurons, in addition to two lamina-defined types of pyramidal neurons (L23 and L5). Cortical interneurons comprise two types in L1 (eNGC and SBC-like), seven in L23 (L23MC, L23NGC, BTC, BPC, DBC, L23BC, and ChC), and six in L5 (L5MC, L5NGC, L5BC, SC, HEC, and DC) (see the figure). Each type has stereotypical electrophysiological properties and morphological features and can be differentiated from all others by cell type-specific axonal geometry and axonal projection patterns. Importantly, each type of neuron has its own characteristic input-output connectivity profile, connecting with other constituent neuronal types with varying degrees of specificity in postsynaptic targets, laminar location, and synaptic characteristics. Despite specific connection patterns for each cell type, we found that a small number of simple connectivity motifs are repeated across layers and cell types defining a canonical cortical microcircuit.
Our comprehensive profiling of neuronal cell types and connections in adult neocortex provides the most complete wiring diagram of neocortical microcircuits to date. Compared with current genetic labels for cell class, which paint the cortex in broad strokes, our analysis of morphological and electrophysiological properties revealed new cell classes and allowed us to derive a small number of simple connectivity rules that were repeated across layers and cell types. This detailed blueprint of cortical wiring should aid efforts to identify specific circuit abnormalities in animal models of brain disease and may eventually provide a path toward the development of comprehensive circuit-based, cell type-specific interventions.
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