Perineuronal nets (PNNs) are specialized extracellular matrix (ECM) structures that condense around the soma and proximal dendrites of subpopulations of neurons. Emerging evidence suggests that they are involved in regulating brain plasticity. However, the expression of PNNs varies between and within brain areas. A lack of quantitative studies describing the distribution and cell-specificity of PNNs makes it difficult to reveal the functional roles of PNNs. In the current study, we examine the distribution of PNNs and the identity of PNN-enwrapped neurons in three brain areas with different cognitive functions: the dorsal hippocampus, medial entorhinal cortex (mEC) and primary visual cortex (V1). We compared rats and mice as knowledge from these species are often intermingled. The most abundant expression of PNNs was found in the mEC and V1, while dorsal hippocampus showed strikingly low levels of PNNs, apart from dense expression in the CA2 region. In hippocampus we also found apparent species differences in expression of PNNs. While we confirm that the PNNs enwrap parvalbumin-expressing (PV+) neurons in V1, we found that they mainly colocalize with excitatory CamKII-expressing neurons in CA2. In mEC, we demonstrate that in addition to PV+ cells, the PNNs colocalize with reelin-expressing stellate cells. We also show that the maturation of PNNs in mEC coincides with the formation of grid cell pattern, while PV+ cells, unlike in other cortical areas, are present from early postnatal development. Finally, we demonstrate considerable effects on the number of PSD-95-gephyrin puncta after enzymatic removal of PNNs.
This item's license is: Attribution 4.0 International