Synaptic Organization of Anterior Olfactory Nucleus Inputs to Piriform Cortex.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Odors activate distributed ensembles of neurons within the piriform cortex, forming cortical representations of odor thought to be essential to olfactory learning and behaviors. This odor response is driven by direct input from the olfactory bulb, but is also shaped by a dense network of associative or intracortical inputs to piriform, which may enhance or constrain the cortical odor representation. With optogenetic techniques, it is possible to functionally isolate defined inputs to piriform cortex and assess their potential to activate or inhibit piriform pyramidal neurons. The anterior olfactory nucleus (AON) receives direct input from the olfactory bulb and sends an associative projection to piriform cortex that has potential roles in the state-dependent processing of olfactory behaviors. Here, we provide a detailed functional assessment of the AON afferents to piriform in male and female C57Bl/6J mice. We confirm that the AON forms glutamatergic excitatory synapses onto piriform pyramidal neurons; and while these inputs are not as strong as piriform recurrent collaterals, they are less constrained by disynaptic inhibition. Moreover, AON-to-piriform synapses contain a substantial NMDAR-mediated current that prolongs the synaptic response at depolarized potentials. These properties of limited inhibition and slow NMDAR-mediated currents result in strong temporal summation of AON inputs within piriform pyramidal neurons, and suggest that the AON could powerfully enhance activation of piriform neurons in response to odor.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Odor information is transmitted from olfactory receptors to olfactory bulb, and then to piriform cortex, where ensembles of activated neurons form neural representations of the odor. While these ensembles are driven by primary bulbar afferents, and shaped by intracortical recurrent connections, the potential for another early olfactory area, the anterior olfactory nucleus (AON), to contribute to piriform activity is not known. Here, we use optogenetic circuit-mapping methods to demonstrate that AON inputs can significantly activate piriform neurons, as they are coupled to NMDAR currents and to relatively modest disynaptic inhibition. The AON may enhance the piriform odor response, encouraging further study to determine the states or behaviors through which AON potentiates the cortical response to odor.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Russo, MJ; Franks, KM; Oghaz, R; Axel, R; Siegelbaum, SA

Published Date

  • December 2, 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 40 / 49

Start / End Page

  • 9414 - 9425

PubMed ID

  • 33115926

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7724133

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1529-2401

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0965-20.2020


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States