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Mossy fiber projections from the cuneate nucleus to the cochlear nucleus in the rat

Abstract:

Wright, D.D., and D.K. Ryugo (1996)
Mossy fiber projections from the cuneate nucleus to the cochlear nucleus in the rat. Journal of Comparative Neurology 365:159-172.

A reciprocal connection is known to exist between the cuneate nucleus, which is a first-order somatosensory nucleus, and the cochlear nucleus, which is a first-order auditory nucleus. We continued this line of study by investigating the fiber endings of this projection in the cochlear nucleus of rats using the neuronal tracer Phaseolus vulgaris leucoagglutinin in combination with ultrastructural and immunocytochemical analyses. In the cochlear nucleus, mossy fiber terminals had been described and named for their morphologic similarity to those in the cerebellum, but their origins had not been discovered. In the present study, we determined that the axonal projections from the cuneate region gave rise to mossy fiber terminals in the granule cell regions of the ipsilateral cochlear nucleus. The cuneate mossy fibers appear to be excitatory in nature, because they are filled with round synaptic vesicles, they make asymmetric synapses with postsynaptic targets, and they are labeled with an antibody to glutamate. The postsynaptic targets of the mossy fibers include dendrites of granule cells. This projection onto the granule cell interneuron circuit of the cochlear nucleus indicates that somatosensory cues are intimately involved with information processing at this early stage of the auditory system.

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