ATP-mediated synaptic transmission represents the only transmitter-gated Ca2+-entry pathway in neurons of the rodent medial habenula. In addition to direct purinergic receptor-mediated synaptic inputs, the medial habenula contains purinergic systems that modulate synaptic transmission. Purinergic signaling is modulated or terminated by ectonucleotidase, nucleotide-hydrolyzing enzymes of the cell surface. Here we identify the major ectonucleotidase responsible for the hydrolysis of extracellular ATP in the mouse medial habenula as ectonucleoside triphosphate diphosphohydrolase 2 (NTPDase2), using immunostaining and enzyme histochemistry. Double labeling experiments reveal that the enzyme is expressed by astrocytes enwrapping the densely packed neurons and also the myelinated fiber bundles of the stria medullaris. NTPDase2 immunoreactivity is absent from the lateral habenula. The analysis of mice expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein under the promoter of glial fibrillary acidic protein revealed that the medial habenula harbors a highly polar type of astrocytes with very long laminar cellular processes, untypical for grey matter astrocytes. Its morphology strongly differs from that of the stellate astrocytes in the adjacent lateral habenula. Our results suggest that the mouse medial habenula contains a specific perineuronal nonstellate subtype of astrocyte that expresses the ectonucleotidase NTPDase2 and is in a strategic position to modulate purinergic transmission in this subnucleus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience