Differential distribution of the KCl cotransporter KCC2 in thalamic relay and reticular nuclei

P. Barthó, John A Payne, T. F. Freund, L. Acsády

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


In the thalamus of the rat the reversal potential of GABA-induced anion currents is more negative in relay cells than in neurones of the reticular nucleus (nRt) due to different chloride extrusion mechanisms operating in these cells. The distribution of KCl cotransporter type 2 (KCC2), the major neuronal chloride transporter that may underlie this effect, is unknown in the thalamus. In this study the precise regional and ultrastructural localization of KCC2 was examined in the thalamus using immunocytochemical methods. The neuropil of all relay nuclei was found to display intense KCC2 immunostaining to varying degrees. In sharp contrast, the majority of the nRt was negative for KCC2. In the anterior and dorsal part of the nRt, however, KCC2 immunostaining was similar to relay nuclei and parvalbumin and calretinin were found to colocalize with KCC2. At the ultrastructural level, KCC2 immunoreactivity was mainly located in the extrasynaptic membranes of thick and thin dendrites and the somata of relay cells but was also found in close association with asymmetrical synapses formed by cortical afferents. Quantitative evaluation of KCC2 distribution at the electron microscopic level demonstrated that the density of KCC2 did not correlate with dendritic diameter or synaptic coverage but is 1.7 times higher on perisynaptic membrane surfaces than on extrasynaptic membranes. Our data demonstrate that the regional distribution of KCC2 is compatible with the difference in GABA-A reversal potential between relay and reticular nuclei. At the ultrastructural level, abundant extrasynaptic KCC2 expression will probably play a role in the regulation of extrasynaptic GABA-A receptor-mediated inhibition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)965-975
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 2004


  • GABA
  • KCl cotransporter
  • Rat
  • Reticular nucleus
  • Thalamus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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