Quantitative association of anatomical and functional classes of olfactory bulb neurons

More about Open Access at the Crick


Juxtaglomerular cells (JGCs) of the olfactory bulb (OB) glomerular layer (GL) play a fundamental role in olfactory information processing. Their variability in morphology, physiology, and connectivity suggests distinct functions. The quantitative understanding of population-wise morphological and physiological properties and a comprehensive classification based on quantitative parameters, however, is still lacking, impeding the analysis of microcircuits. Here, we provide multivariate clustering of 95 sampled cells from the GL of the mouse (male or female C57BL/6) OB and perform detailed morphological and physiological characterization for the seven computed JGC types. Using a classifier based on a subselection of parameters, we identified the neuron types in paired recordings to characterize their functional connectivity. We found that 4 of the 7 clusters comply with prevailing concepts of GL cell types, whereas the other 3 represent own distinct entities. We have labeled these entities horizontal superficial tufted cell (hSTC), vertical superficial tufted cell, and microglomerular cell (MGC): The hSTC is a tufted cell with a lateral dendrite that much like mitral cells and tufted cells receives excitatory inputs from the external tufted cell but likewise serves as an excitatory element for glomerular interneurons. The vertical superficial tufted cell, on the other hand, represents a tufted cell type with vertically projecting basal dendrites. We further define the MGC, characterized by a small dendritic tree and plateau action potentials. In addition to olfactory nerve-driven and external tufted cell driven interneurons, these MGCs represent a third functionally distinct type, the hSTC-driven interneurons. The presented correlative analysis helps to bridge the gap between branching patterns and cellular functional properties, permitting the integration of results from recordings, advanced morphological tools, and connectomics. The variance of neuron properties is a feature across mammalian cerebral circuits, contributing to signal processing and adding computational robustness to the networks. It is particularly noticeable in the glomerular layer of the olfactory bulb, the first site of olfactory information processing. We provide the first unbiased population-wise multivariate analysis to correlate morphological and physiological parameters of juxtaglomerular cells. We identify seven cell types, including four previously described neuron types, and identify further three distinct classes. The presented correlative analysis of morphological and physiological parameters gives an opportunity to predict morphological classes from physiological measurements or the functional properties of neurons from morphology and opens the way to integrate results from recordings, advanced morphological tools, and connectomics.

Journal details

Volume 38
Issue number 33
Pages 7204-7220
Available online
Publication date