Persico A.M., Mengual E., Moessner R., Hall S.F., Revay R. S., Sora I., et al. Barrel pattern formation requires serotonin uptake by thalamocortical afferents, and not vesicular monoamine release. The journal of neuroscience, 2001Sep, 21(17):6862-6873.
Thalamocortical neurons innervating the barrel cortex in neonatal rodents transiently store serotonin (5-HT) in synaptic vesicles by expressing the plasma membrane serotonin transporter (5-HTT) and the vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT2). 5-HTT knock-out (ko) mice reveal a nearly complete absence of 5-HT in the cerebral cortex by immunohistochemistry, and of barrels, both at P7 and adulthood. Quantitative electron microscopy reveals that 5-HTT ko affects neither the density of synapses nor the length of synaptic contacts in layer IV. VMAT2 ko mice, completely lacking activity-dependent vesicular release of monoamines including 5-HT, also show a complete lack of 5-HT in the cortex but display largely normal barrel fields, despite sometimes markedly reduced postnatal growth. Transient 5-HTT expression is thus required for barrel pattern formation, whereas activity-dependent vesicular 5-HT release is not.