We studied the synaptic input from the nucleus interpositus of the cerebellum to the magnocellular division of the red nucleus (RNm) in the mouse using combined electrophysiological and neuroanatomical methods. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were made from brain slices (125-150 μm) cut in a horizontal plane oriented to pass through both red nucleus and nucleus interpositus. Large cells that were visually selected and patched were injected with Lucifer Yellow and identified as RNm neurons. Using anterograde tracing from nucleus interpositus in vitro, we examined the course of interposito-rubral axons which are dispersed in the superior cerebellar peduncle. In vitro monosynaptic responses in RNm were elicited by an electrode array placed contralaterally in this pathway but near the midline. Mixed excitatory post-synaptic potentials (EPSPs)/inhibitory post-synaptic potentials (IPSPs) were observed in 48 RNm neurons. Excitatory components of the evoked potentials were studied after blocking inhibitory components with picrotoxin (100 μM) and strychnine (5 μM). All RNm neurons examined continued to show monosynaptic EPSPs after non-N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor components were blocked with 10 μM 6,7-dinitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione or 5 μM 2,3-dihydro-6-nitro-7-sulfamoyl-benzo(f)-quinoxaline (NBQX; n=12). The residual potentials were identified as NMDA receptor components since they (i) were blocked by the addition of the NMDA receptor antagonist, D,L-2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid (APV), (ii) were voltage-dependent, and (iii) were enhanced by Mg2+ removal. Inhibitory components of the evoked potentials were studied after blocking excitatory components with NBQX and APV. Under these conditions, all RNm neurons studied continued to show IPSPs. Blockade of GABAA receptors reduced but did not eliminate the IPSPs. These were eliminated when GABAA receptor blockade was combined with strychnine to eliminate glycine components of the IPSPs. Thus, IPSPs evoked by midline stimulation of the superior cerebellar peduncle, while blocking α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA) and NMDA receptors, raise the possibility of direct inhibitory inputs to RNm from the cerebellum. In summary we propose that the special properties of the NMDA receptor components are considered important for the generation of RNm motor commands: their slow time course will contribute a steady driving force for sustained discharge and their voltage dependency will facilitate abrupt transitions from a resting state of quiescence to an active state of intense motor command generation.
- Biotinylated dextran
- Brain slice
- N-methyl-D-aspartic acid
- α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid
ASJC Scopus subject areas