Cortical somatostatin interneuron subtypes form cell-type-specific circuits
The cardinal classes are a useful simplification of cortical interneuron diversity, but such broad subgroupings gloss over the molecular, morphological, and circuit specificity of interneuron subtypes, most notably among the somatostatin interneuron class. Although there is evidence that this diversity is functionally relevant, the circuit implications of this diversity are unknown. To address this knowledge gap, we designed a series of genetic strategies to target the breadth of somatostatin interneuron subtypes and found that each subtype possesses a unique laminar organization and stereotyped axonal projection pattern. Using these strategies, we examined the afferent and efferent connectivity of three subtypes (two Martinotti and one non-Martinotti) and demonstrated that they possess selective connectivity with intratelecephalic or pyramidal tract neurons. Even when two subtypes targeted the same pyramidal cell type, their synaptic targeting proved selective for particular dendritic compartments. We thus provide evidence that subtypes of somatostatin interneurons form cell-type-specific cortical circuits.
Mechanisms of Dominant Electrophysiological Features of Four Subtypes of Layer 1 Interneurons
Neocortical layer 1 (L1) consists of the distal dendrites of pyramidal cells and GABAergic interneurons (INs) and receives extensive long-range "top-down" projections, but L1 INs remain poorly understood. In this work, we systematically examined the distinct dominant electrophysiological features for four unique IN subtypes in L1 that were previously identified from mice of either gender: Canopy cells show an irregular firing pattern near rheobase; neurogliaform cells are late-spiking, and their firing rate accelerates during current injections; cells with strong expression of the α7 nicotinic receptor (α7 cells), display onset (rebound) bursting; vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP) expressing cells exhibit high input resistance, strong adaptation, and irregular firing. Computational modeling revealed that these diverse neurophysiological features could be explained by an extended exponential-integrate-and-fire neuron model with varying contributions of a slowly inactivating K+ channel, a T-type Ca2+ channel, and a spike-triggered Ca2+-dependent K+ channel. In particular, we show that irregular firing results from square-wave bursting through a fast-slow analysis. Furthermore, we demonstrate that irregular firing is frequently observed in VIP cells because of the interaction between strong adaptation and a slowly inactivating K+ channel. At last, we reveal that the VIP and α7 cell models resonant with alpha/theta band input through a dynamic gain analysis.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT In the neocortex, ∼25% of neurons are interneurons. Interestingly, only somas of interneurons reside within layer 1 (L1) of the neocortex, but not of excitatory pyramidal cells. L1 interneurons are diverse and believed to be important in the cortical-cortex interactions, especially top-down signaling in the cortical hierarchy. However, the electrophysiological features of L1 interneurons are poorly understood. Here, we systematically studied the electrophysiological features within each L1 interneuron subtype. Furthermore, we build computational models for each subtype and study the mechanisms behind these features. These electrophysiological features within each subtype should be incorporated to elucidate how different L1 interneuron subtypes contribute to communication between cortexes.
Bottom-up inputs are required for establishment of top-down connectivity onto cortical layer 1 neurogliaform cells
Higher-order projections to sensory cortical areas converge on layer 1 (L1), the primary site for integration of top-down information via the apical dendrites of pyramidal neurons and L1 GABAergic interneurons. Here we investigated the contribution of early thalamic inputs onto L1 interneurons for establishment of top-down connectivity in the primary visual cortex. We find that bottom-up thalamic inputs predominate during L1 development and preferentially target neurogliaform cells. We show that these projections are critical for the subsequent strengthening of top-down inputs from the anterior cingulate cortex onto L1 neurogliaform cells. Sensory deprivation or selective removal of thalamic afferents blocked this phenomenon. Although early activation of the anterior cingulate cortex resulted in premature strengthening of these top-down afferents, this was dependent on thalamic inputs. Our results demonstrate that proper establishment of top-down connectivity in the visual cortex depends critically on bottom-up inputs from the thalamus during postnatal development.
Neocortical Layer 1: An Elegant Solution to Top-Down and Bottom-Up Integration
Many of our daily activities, such as riding a bike to work or reading a book in a noisy cafe, and highly skilled activities, such as a professional playing a tennis match or a violin concerto, depend upon the ability of the brain to quickly make moment-to-moment adjustments to our behavior in response to the results of our actions. Particularly, they depend upon the ability of the neocortex to integrate the information provided by the sensory organs (bottom-up information) with internally generated signals such as expectations or attentional signals (top-down information). This integration occurs in pyramidal cells (PCs) and their long apical dendrite, which branches extensively into a dendritic tuft in layer 1 (L1). The outermost layer of the neocortex, L1 is highly conserved across cortical areas and species. Importantly, L1 is the predominant input layer for top-down information, relayed by a rich, dense mesh of long-range projections that provide signals to the tuft branches of the PCs. Here, we discuss recent progress in our understanding of the composition of L1 and review evidence that L1 processing contributes to functions such as sensory perception, cross-modal integration, controlling states of consciousness, attention, and learning. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Neuroscience, Volume 44 is July 2021. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
Sleep down state-active ID2/Nkx2.1 interneurons in the neocortex
Pyramidal cells and GABAergic interneurons fire together in balanced cortical networks. In contrast to this general rule, we describe a distinct neuron type in mice and rats whose spiking activity is anti-correlated with all principal cells and interneurons in all brain states but, most prevalently, during the down state of non-REM (NREM) sleep. We identify these down state-active (DSA) neurons as deep-layer neocortical neurogliaform cells that express ID2 and Nkx2.1 and are weakly immunoreactive to neuronal nitric oxide synthase. DSA neurons are weakly excited by deep-layer pyramidal cells and strongly inhibited by several other GABAergic cell types. Spiking of DSA neurons modified the sequential firing order of other neurons at down-up transitions. Optogenetic activation of ID2+Nkx2.1+ interneurons in the posterior parietal cortex during NREM sleep, but not during waking, interfered with consolidation of cue discrimination memory. Despite their sparsity, DSA neurons perform critical physiological functions.
Cellular birthdate predicts laminar and regional cholinergic projection topography in the forebrain
The basal forebrain cholinergic system projects broadly throughout the cortex and constitutes a critical source of neuromodulation for arousal and attention. Traditionally, this system was thought to function diffusely. However, recent studies have revealed a high degree of spatiotemporal specificity in cholinergic signaling. How the organization of cholinergic afferents confers this level of precision remains unknown. Here, using intersectional genetic fate mapping, we demonstrate that cholinergic fibers within the mouse cortex exhibit remarkable laminar and regional specificity and that this is organized in accordance with cellular birthdate. Strikingly, birthdated cholinergic projections within the cortex follow an inside-out pattern of innervation. While early born cholinergic populations target deep layers, late born ones innervate superficial laminae. We also find that birthdate predicts cholinergic innervation patterns within the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex. Our work reveals previously unappreciated specificity within the cholinergic system and the developmental logic by which these circuits are assembled.
Author Correction: Innovations present in the primate interneuron repertoire
An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Innovations present in the primate interneuron repertoire
Primates and rodents, which descended from a common ancestor around 90Â million years ago1, exhibit profound differences in behaviour and cognitive capacity; the cellular basis for these differences is unknown. Here we use single-nucleus RNA sequencing to profile RNA expression in 188,776 individual interneurons across homologous brain regions from three primates (human, macaque and marmoset), a rodent (mouse) and a weasel (ferret). Homologous interneuron types-which were readily identified by their RNA-expression patterns-varied in abundance and RNA expression among ferrets, mice and primates, but varied less among primates. Only a modest fraction of the genes identified as 'markers' of specific interneuron subtypes in any one species had this property in another species. In the primate neocortex, dozens of genes showed spatial expression gradients among interneurons of the same type, which suggests that regional variation in cortical contexts shapes the RNA expression patterns of adult neocortical interneurons. We found that an interneuron type that was previously associated with the mouse hippocampus-the 'ivy cell', which has neurogliaform characteristics-has become abundant across the neocortex of humans, macaques and marmosets but not mice or ferrets. We also found a notable subcortical innovation: an abundant striatal interneuron type in primates that had no molecularly homologous counterpart in mice or ferrets. These interneurons expressed a unique combination of genes that encode transcription factors, receptors and neuropeptides and constituted around 30% of striatal interneurons in marmosets and humans.
Heterosynaptic Plasticity Determines the Set Point for Cortical Excitatory-Inhibitory Balance
Excitation in neural circuits must be carefully controlled by inhibition to regulate information processing and network excitability. During development, cortical inhibitory and excitatory inputs are initially mismatched but become co-tuned or balanced with experience. However, little is known about how excitatory-inhibitory balance is defined at most synapses or about the mechanisms for establishing or maintaining this balance at specific set points. Here we show how coordinated long-term plasticity calibrates populations of excitatory-inhibitory inputs onto mouse auditory cortical pyramidal neurons. Pairing pre- and postsynaptic activity induced plasticity at paired inputs and different forms of heterosynaptic plasticity at the strongest unpaired synapses, which required minutes of activity and dendritic Ca2+ signaling to be computed. Theoretical analyses demonstrated how the relative rate of heterosynaptic plasticity could normalize and stabilize synaptic strengths to achieve any possible excitatory-inhibitory correlation. Thus, excitatory-inhibitory balance is dynamic and cell specific, determined by distinct plasticity rules across multiple excitatory and inhibitory synapses.
Mining the jewels of the cortex's crowning mystery
Neocortical Layer 1 consists of a dense mesh of excitatory and inhibitory axons, dendrites of pyramidal neurons, as well as neuromodulatory inputs from diverse brain regions. Layer 1 also consists of a sparse population of inhibitory interneurons, which are appropriately positioned to receive and integrate the information from these regions of the brain and modulate cortical processing. Despite being among the sparsest neuronal population in the cortex, Layer 1 interneurons perform powerful computations and have elaborate morphologies. Here we review recent studies characterizing their origin, morphology, physiology, and molecular profiles, as well as their connectivity and in vivo response properties.