To characterize the synapses between hair cells and afferent nerve endings in the rat vestibular end organs, the ultrastructural localization of AMPA receptor subunits (GluR1-4) was examined by postembedding immunogold cytochemistry. Immunoreactivities for GluR2/3 and GluR4 were associated with the synapses between type I hair cells and the surrounding chaliceal nerve endings and with the bouton type nerve endings contacting type II hair cells. There was no detectable immunoreactivity for GIuR1. A third type of immunoreactive synapse was found between the outer face of chalices and type II hair cells. While the linear densities of gold particles (particles per micrometer postsynaptic specialization) of bouton type endings and chaliceal nerve endings were the same, the former type of ending showed larger postsynaptic specializations and, hence, a higher number of receptor molecules. These data indicate that there are three types of putative glutamatergic synapse in the vestibular end organ.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Clinical Neurology
- Developmental Biology