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An electrophysiological study of a transient ipsilateral interpositorubral projection in neonatal cats

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We examined whether transient projections in the developing central nervous system of Mammalia form functional synapses on their target neurons, using transient ipsilateral interpositorubral (iIR) projection in kittens as a model system. Intracellular recordings were made from red nucleus (RN) neurons in 26 kittens aged 6–26 postnatal days (PD6-26). RN neurons were identified by monosynaptic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) evoked by stimulation of contralateral nucleus interpositus (IN), and additionally by intracellular staining in a few cells. Sixty-nine out of 362 RN neurons responded to stimulation of the ipsilateral IN. Of the 69 cells, 25 showed depolarizing responses with relatively short latency (2.1–6.7 ms) in kittens up to PD20. Such responses were not observed in older animals. Varying stimulus strength revealed that the potentials were unitary. Paired-pulse facilitation of the potential was observed, suggesting that the depolarizations are EPSPs. Several lines of evidence were obtained suggesting that the EPSPs are evoked monosynaptically. They followed high-frequency stimulation up to 50 Hz, and their latencies remained constant with varying stimulus strength. The latencies of ipsilaterally induced EPSPs were always longer than those of contralateral ones, evidence consistent with the longer course of ipsilaterally projecting axons than that of contralateral ones (Song and Murakami 1990). The age of disappearance of the monosynaptic EPSPs, i.e., PD20, also corresponds roughly with that of the anatomically demonstrable iIR fibers (PD15–PD25; Song and Murakami 1990). It is thus concluded that the transient iIR fibers in kittens form functional synapses on RN neurons.

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Song, W., Kobayashi, Y. & Murakami, F. An electrophysiological study of a transient ipsilateral interpositorubral projection in neonatal cats. Exp Brain Res 92, 399–406 (1993).

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Key words

  • Transient projection
  • Synapse elimination
  • Red nucleus
  • Nucleus interpositus
  • Intracellular recording
  • Cat