Identification of an inhibitory neuron subtype, the L-stellate cell of the cochlear nucleus
Auditory processing depends upon inhibitory signaling by interneurons, even at its earliest stages in the ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN). Remarkably, to date only a single subtype of inhibitory neuron has been documented in the VCN, a projection neuron termed the D-stellate cell. With the use of a transgenic mouse line, optical clearing, and imaging techniques, combined with electrophysiological tools, we revealed a population of glycinergic cells in the VCN distinct from the D-stellate cell. These multipolar glycinergic cells were smaller in soma size and dendritic area, but over ten-fold more numerous than D-stellate cells. They were activated by auditory nerve and T-stellate cells, and made local inhibitory synaptic contacts on principal cells of the VCN. Given their abundance, combined with their narrow dendritic fields and axonal projections, it is likely that these neurons, here termed L-stellate cells, play a significant role in frequency-specific processing of acoustic signals.