Synaptic and non-synaptic communication between neurons and oligodendrocyte precursor cells in the somatosensory cortex

Abstract : Oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) are the main source of myelinating oligodendrocytes during postnatal development. These progenitors, identified by the expression of the proteoglycan NG2, are extremely abundant before myelination, but also persist in the mature brain. Similarly to other non-neuronal cells they express a wide range of ionic and ligand-gated ion channels. However, they are unique by their ability to receive truly glutamatergic and GABAergic synaptic contacts from neurons. During this thesis, we characterized the electrophysiological properties of OPCs during the postnatal development of the mouse somatosensory cortex (post postnatal month). By performing patch-clamp recordings, single-cell RT-PCR analyses and pharmacological approaches, we found that outwardly rectifying I-V curves become linear during development, as the result of an upregulation of Kir4.1 potassium channels. Endowed with these channels, adult OPCs are able to sense local extracellular potassium increases generated by neuronal activity. This developmental upregulation of Kir4.1 channels in OPCs revealed that these cells gain physiological properties during development, conferring them the capacity to communicate with neurons, via a non-synaptic potassium-mediated mechanism. This developmental change also supports the view that OPCs are probably more than simple progenitors. In the second part of this thesis, we were interested in study the connectivity patterns underlying the GABAergic interneuron-OPC network in the young somatosensory cortex (second postnatal week). First, we took advantage of the high lateral and axial precision of one-photon holographic photolysis to stimulate GABAergic interneurons at a single cell resolution in order to evoke an action potential. We then used this technique to map the connectivity between interneurons and OPCs. We found that the connectivity probability of OPCs was around half less than that of pyramidal cells and involved more local microcircuits. In addition, by performing paired-recordings, OPCs showed to be transiently contacted by fast-spiking (FSI) and non-fast-spiking (NFSI) interneurons, through single or double release sites. Interestingly, postsynaptic sites containing GABAA receptors with the γ2 subunit were predominantly connected by FSI, indicating that these cells provide a specific input to OPCs. Here we described for the first time the emergence of specific cortical network between neurons and non-neuronal cells. In conclusion, this thesis contributed to get a better understanding of the different modes of communication between neurons and OPCs and the establishment of new signaling mechanisms used by neurons to control the activity of these precursors.
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Paloma P. Maldonado Rojas. Synaptic and non-synaptic communication between neurons and oligodendrocyte precursor cells in the somatosensory cortex. Human health and pathology. Université René Descartes - Paris V, 2013. English. ⟨NNT : 2013PA05T064⟩. ⟨tel-01017183⟩

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