Jonathan Stephan: Functional Specializations of Neuroglia as Critical Determinants for precise neuronal signaling in the auditory brainstem


Unusual neuronal specializations are seen in the mammalian auditory system. We hypothesize that these specializations are also manifested on the astrocytic side. We further hypothesize that astrocytic specializations and heterogeneity are causally linked to brain region-specific differences concerning speed and precision of synaptic transmission. We will test these so far unexplored hypotheses by analyzing several aspects of astrocyte function in two conspicuous relay stations in the auditory brainstem, the LSO and the IC. Data from the LSO will be compared with those from the IC to assess region-specific differences. We will tackle inhibitory transmission in both stations and address the function of various proteins, namely the glycine transporter GlyT1, the GABA transporter GAT-3, the connexins Cx43 and Cx30, and the inwardly rectifying potassium channel Kir4.1.

LSO network at P19-20. Merge of patched astrocyte (alexa fluor 568, red), the gap junction network (neurobiotin labeled with avidin alexa fluor 488, green), and LSO (immunohistochemical labeling of GlyT2; secondary antibody labeled with alexa fluor 647, magenta). Dorsal is up, lateral is right; 450x450 µm2.

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