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Hilar mossy cells (HMCs) in the hippocampus receive glutamatergic input from dentate granule cells (DGCs) via mossy fibers (MFs) and back-projections from CA3 pyramidal neuron collateral axons. Many fundamental features of these excitatory synapses have not been characterized in detail despite their potential relevance to hippocampal cognitive processing and epilepsy-induced adaptations in circuit excitability. In this study, we compared pre- and postsynaptic parameters between MF and CA3 inputs to HMCs in young and adult mice of either sex and determined the relative contributions of the respective excitatory inputs during and models of hippocampal hyperexcitability. The two types of excitatory synapses both exhibited a modest degree of short-term plasticity, with MF inputs to HMCs exhibiting lower paired-pulse (PP) and frequency facilitation than was described previously for MF-CA3 pyramidal cell synapses. MF-HMC synapses exhibited unitary excitatory synaptic currents (EPSCs) of larger amplitude, contained postsynaptic kainate receptors, and had a lower NMDA/AMPA receptor ratio compared to CA3-HMC synapses. Pharmacological induction of hippocampal hyperexcitability transformed the abundant but relatively weak CA3-HMC connections to very large amplitude spontaneous bursts of compound EPSCs (cEPSCs) in young mice (∼P20) and, to a lesser degree, in adult mice (∼P70). CA3-HMC cEPSCs were also observed in slices prepared from mice with spontaneous seizures several weeks after intrahippocampal kainate injection. Strong excitation of HMCs during synchronous CA3 activity represents an avenue of significant excitatory network generation back to DGCs and might be important in generating epileptic networks.
N-acylethanolamines (NAEs) are membrane-derived lipids that are utilized as signaling molecules in the nervous system (e.g., the endocannabinoid anandamide). An N-acyl phosphatidylethanolamine phospholipase D (NAPE-PLD) that catalyzes formation of NAEs was recently identified as a member of the zinc metallohydrolase family of enzymes. NAPE-PLD(-/-) mice have greatly reduced brain levels of long-chain saturated NAEs but wild-type levels of polyunsaturated NAEs (e.g., anandamide), suggesting an important role for NAPE-PLD in the biosynthesis of at least a subset of endogenous NAEs in the mammalian nervous system. To provide a neuroanatomical basis for investigation of NAPE-PLD function, here we have analyzed expression of NAPE-PLD in the mouse brain using mRNA in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry. NAPE-PLD(-/-) mice were utilized to establish the specificity of probes/antibodies used. The most striking feature of NAPE-PLD expression in the brain was in the dentate gyrus, where a strong mRNA signal was detected in granule cells. Accordingly, immunocytochemical analysis revealed intense NAPE-PLD immunoreactivity in the axons of granule cells (mossy fibers). Intense NAPE-PLD immunoreactivity was also detected in axons of the vomeronasal nerve that project to the accessory olfactory bulb. NAPE-PLD expression was detected in other brain regions (e.g., hippocampus, cortex, thalamus, hypothalamus), but the intensity of immunostaining was weaker than in mossy fibers. Collectively, the data obtained indicate that NAPE-PLD is expressed by specific populations of neurons in the brain and targeted to axonal processes. We suggest that NAEs generated by NAPE-PLD in axons may act as anterograde synaptic signaling molecules that regulate the activity of postsynaptic neurons.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.