Organization of functional synaptic connections between medullary reticulospinal neurons and lumbar descending commissural interneurons in the neonatal mouse
Szokol, K.; Glover, J.C.; Perreault, M.-C.
Journal of Neuroscience the Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 31(12): 4731-4742
ISSN/ISBN: 1529-2401 PMID: 21430172 DOI: 10.1523/jneurosci.5486-10.2011
The medullary reticular formation (MRF) of the neonatal mouse is organized so that the medial and lateral MRF activate hindlimb and trunk motoneurons (MNs) with differential predominance. The goal of the present study was to investigate whether this activation is polysynaptic and mediated by commissural interneurons with descending axons (dCINs) in the lumbar spinal cord. To this end, we tested the polysynapticity of inputs from the MRF to MNs and tested for the presence of selective inputs from medial and lateral MRF to 574 individual dCINs in the L2 segment of the neonatal mouse. Reticulospinal-mediated postsynaptic Ca(2+) responses in MNs were reduced in the presence of mephenesin and after a midline lesion, suggesting the involvement of dCINs in mediating the responses. Consistent with this, stimulation of reticulospinal neurons in the medial or lateral MRF activated 51% and 57% of ipsilateral dCINs examined (255 and 352 dCINs, respectively) and 52% and 46% of contralateral dCINs examined (166 and 133 dCINs, respectively). The proportion of dCINs that responded specifically to stimulation of medial or lateral MRF was similar to the proportions of dCINs that responded to both MRF regions or to neither. The three responsive dCIN populations had largely overlapping spatial distributions. We demonstrate the existence of dCIN subpopulations sufficient to mediate responses in lumbar motoneurons from reticulospinal pathways originating from the medial and lateral MRF. Differential control of trunk and hindlimb muscles by the medullary reticulospinal system may therefore be mediated in part by identifiable dCIN populations.