Expression of the potassium-chloride co-transporter, KCC2, within the avian song system.

Author(s) Vaaga, C.E.; Miller, K.E.; Bodor, Á.L.; Perkel, D.J.
Journal J Comp Neurol
Date Published 2018 Apr 15

Songbirds learn to produce vocalizations early in life by listening to, then copying the songs of conspecific males. The anterior forebrain pathway, homologous to a basal ganglia-forebrain circuit, is essential for song learning. The projection between the striato-pallidal structure, Area X, and the medial portion of the dorsolateral thalamic nucleus (DLM) is strongly hyperpolarizing in adults, due to a very negative chloride reversal potential (Person & Perkel, Neuron 46:129-140, 2005). The chloride reversal potential is determined, in part, by the expression level of a neuron-specific potassium-chloride cotransporter, KCC2, which is developmentally upregulated in mammals. To determine whether a similar upregulation in KCC2 expression occurs at the Area X to DLM synapse during development, we examined the expression level of KCC2 in adult zebra finches across the song system as well as during development in the Area X - DLM synapse. We demonstrate that KCC2 is expressed in a subset of neurons throughout the song system, including HVC (used as a proper name), robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA), lateral magnocellular nucleus of the anterior nidopallium (LMAN), Area X, and DLM. The majority of pallidal-like projection neurons in Area X showed KCC2 immunoreactivity. In adults, KCC2 expression was robust within DLM, and was upregulated between 14 and 24 days post hatching, before the onset of song learning. Light and electron microscopic analysis indicated that KCC2 immunoreactivity is strongly associated with the plasma membrane. Thus, in the song system as in the mammalian brain, KCC2 expression is well placed to modulate the GABAreversal potential.

DOI 10.1002/cne.24372
ISSN 1096-9861
Citation J Comp Neurol. 2018;526(6):944956.

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