A diverse set of GABAA receptors (GABAARs) enable synaptic plasticity adaptations at inhibitory postsynaptic sites in collaboration with the scaffolding protein gephyrin. Early studies helped to identify distinctions between GABAAR subsets allocated within specific functional circuits, but their contribution to the changing dynamics of a microcircuit remains unclear. Here, using the whisker-barrel system we assessed the contribution of specific GABAAR subtypes to sensory processing in vivo. We monitored spontaneous and evoked Ca2+ transients in layer 2/3 pyramidal cells with the genetically encoded Ca2+ sensor RCaMP1.07. Using Gabra1 or Gabra2 global and conditional knockout mice, we uncovered that 1- and 2-GABAARs determine the sparseness of L2/3 pyramidal neuron encoding. In a cell-type dependent manner, 1-GABAARs affected neuronal excitability while 2-GABAARs influenced the reliability of neuronal responses after whisker stimulation. We also discerned that gephyrin and its diverse post-translational modifications (PTMs) facilitate microcircuit homeostasis. Our results underscore the relevance of the diversity of GABAARs within a cortical microcircuit.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience