The principal neurons of the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body and NG2(+) glial cells receive coordinated excitatory synaptic input


  • J. Mueller
  • D. Reyes-Haro
  • T. Pivneva
  • C. Nolte
  • R. Schaette
  • J. Luebke
  • H. Kettenmann


  • Journal of General Physiology


  • J Gen Physiol 134 (2): 115-127


  • Glial cell processes are part of the synaptic structure and sense spillover of transmitter, while some glial cells can even receive direct synaptic input. Here, we report that a defined type of glial cell in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) receives excitatory glutamatergic synaptic input from the calyx of Held (CoH). This giant glutamatergic terminal forms an axosomatic synapse with a single principal neuron located in the MNTB. The NG2 glia, as postsynaptic principal neurons, establish synapse-like structures with the CoH terminal. In contrast to the principal neurons, which are known to receive excitatory as well as inhibitory inputs, the NG2 glia receive mostly, if not exclusively, alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-isoxazole-4-propionic acid receptor-mediated evoked and spontaneous synaptic input. Simultaneous recordings from neurons and NG2 glia indicate that they partially receive synchronized spontaneous input. This shows that an NG2(+) glial cell and a postsynaptic neuron share presynaptic terminals.