Project 2-Ermentrout investigates the functional properties and receptor subtypes mediating transmission at the inhibitory synaptic connections made by specific classes of GABA neurons in local circuits of the primate neocortex. The studies are motivated by the hypothesis that the presence of short- versus long-lasting inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) at specific connections in the cortical network may associate the activity of certain interneuron subclasses with high (gamma, 30-80Hz) and low (theta, 4-8 Hz) frequency oscillations, respectively. Specifically, we suggest that fast spiking (FS) and non-fast-spiking (nFS) neurons signal via fast and slow IPSCs, respectively. In addition, we hypothesize that different subtypes of ionotropic GABA-A receptors underlie the fast and slow IPSCs in connections from FS and nFS neurons. In computational modeling studies, we will test the validity of the idea that fast and slow IPSCs may associate FS and nFS neurons with gamma and theta network oscillations. Electrophysiological studies in vitro will determine whether indeed FS and nFS neurons signal via fast and slow IPSCs. In addition, the subtypes of GABA-A receptors mediating the IPSCs at connections made by FS and nFS onto other cells of the neocortical network will be assessed using novel benzodiazepine-like compounds that act in a receptor subtype-selective manner. These investigations will be supported by quantitative anatomical studies of the subtype of GABA-A receptor at the different types of synaptic connections using immunocytochemical labeling and fluorescence microscopy techniques. The data obtained in the computer simulations and electrophysiological studies will be integrated in order to build a biophysically-based model of the neocortical network in which the effects of manipulating receptor subtypes is simulated. In light of the previously described alterations in GABA neurons and GABA-A receptor subtypes in schizophrenia, the studies in Project 2 will not only increase our understanding of interneuron function and dysfunction in the illness, but may also have predictive value in terms of future pharmacological interventions based on GABA-A receptor subtypes.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Specialized Center (P50)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1-ERB-S)
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University of Pittsburgh
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