Group II metabotropic glutamate receptors inhibit glutamate release at thalamocortical synapses in the developing somatosensory cortex

Z Mateo, J T Porter
Neuroscience 2007 May 25, 146 (3): 1062-72
Thalamocortical synapses provide a strong glutamatergic excitation to cortical neurons that is critical for processing sensory information. Unit recordings in vivo indicate that metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) reduce the effect of thalamocortical input on cortical circuits. However, it is not known whether this reduction is due to a reduction in glutamate release from thalamocortical terminals or from a decrease in cortical neuron excitability. To directly determine whether mGluRs act as autoreceptors on thalamocortical terminals, we examined the effect of mGluR agonists on thalamocortical synapses in slices. Thalamocortical excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) were recorded in layer IV cortical neurons in developing mouse brain slices. The activation of group II mGluRs with (2S,2'R,3'R)-2-(2',3'-dicarboxycyclopropyl)glycine (DCG IV) reduced thalamocortical EPSCs in both excitatory and inhibitory neurons, while the stimulation of group I or group III mGluRs had no effect on thalamocortical EPSCs. Consistent with a reduction in glutamate release, DCG IV increased the paired pulse ratio and the coefficient of variation of the EPSCs. The reduction induced by DCG IV was reversed by the group II mGluR antagonist, LY341495, and mimicked by another selective group II agonist, (2R,4R)-4-aminopyrrolidine-2,4-dicarboxylic acid (APDC). The mGluR2 subtype appears to mediate the reduction of thalamocortical EPSCs, since the selective mGluR3 agonist, N-acetylaspartylglutamate (NAAG), had no effect on the EPSCs. Consistent with this, we showed that mGluR2 is expressed in the barrels. Furthermore, blocking group II mGluRs with LY341495 reduced the synaptic depression induced by a short stimulus train, indicating that synaptically released glutamate activates these receptors. These results indicate that group II mGluRs modulate thalamocortical processing by inhibiting glutamate release from thalamocortical synapses. This inhibition provides a feedback mechanism for preventing excessive excitation of cortical neurons that could play a role in the plasticity and refinement of thalamocortical connections during this early developmental period.

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