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1.  Calcium-stores mediate adaptation in axon terminals of Olfactory Receptor Neurons in Drosophila 
BMC Neuroscience  2011;12:105.
In vertebrates and invertebrates, sensory neurons adapt to variable ambient conditions, such as the duration or repetition of a stimulus, a physiological mechanism considered as a simple form of non-associative learning and neuronal plasticity. Although various signaling pathways, as cAMP, cGMP, and the inositol 1,4,5-triphosphate receptor (InsP3R) play a role in adaptation, their precise mechanisms of action at the cellular level remain incompletely understood. Recently, in Drosophila, we reported that odor-induced Ca2+-response in axon terminals of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) is related to odor duration. In particular, a relatively long odor stimulus (such as 5 s) triggers the induction of a second component involving intracellular Ca2+-stores.
We used a recently developed in-vivo bioluminescence imaging approach to quantify the odor-induced Ca2+-activity in the axon terminals of ORNs. Using either a genetic approach to target specific RNAs, or a pharmacological approach, we show that the second component, relying on the intracellular Ca2+-stores, is responsible for the adaptation to repetitive stimuli. In the antennal lobes (a region analogous to the vertebrate olfactory bulb) ORNs make synaptic contacts with second-order neurons, the projection neurons (PNs). These synapses are modulated by GABA, through either GABAergic local interneurons (LNs) and/or some GABAergic PNs. Application of GABAergic receptor antagonists, both GABAA or GABAB, abolishes the adaptation, while RNAi targeting the GABABR (a metabotropic receptor) within the ORNs, blocks the Ca2+-store dependent component, and consequently disrupts the adaptation. These results indicate that GABA exerts a feedback control. Finally, at the behavioral level, using an olfactory test, genetically impairing the GABABR or its signaling pathway specifically in the ORNs disrupts olfactory adapted behavior.
Taken together, our results indicate that a relatively long lasting form of adaptation occurs within the axon terminals of the ORNs in the antennal lobes, which depends on intracellular Ca2+-stores, attributable to a positive feedback through the GABAergic synapses.
PMCID: PMC3226658  PMID: 22024464
2.  Requirement for Drosophila SNMP1 for Rapid Activation and Termination of Pheromone-Induced Activity 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(9):e1004600.
Pheromones are used for conspecific communication by many animals. In Drosophila, the volatile male-specific pheromone 11-cis vaccenyl acetate (cVA) supplies an important signal for gender recognition. Sensing of cVA by the olfactory system depends on multiple components, including an olfactory receptor (OR67d), the co-receptor ORCO, and an odorant binding protein (LUSH). In addition, a CD36 related protein, sensory neuron membrane protein 1 (SNMP1) is also involved in cVA detection. Loss of SNMP1 has been reported to eliminate cVA responsiveness, and to greatly increase spontaneous activity of OR67d-expressing olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). Here, we found the snmp11 mutation did not abolish cVA responsiveness or cause high spontaneous activity. The cVA responses in snmp1 mutants displayed a delayed onset, and took longer to reach peak activity than wild-type. Most strikingly, loss of SNMP1 caused a dramatic delay in signal termination. The profound impairment in signal inactivation accounted for the previously reported “spontaneous activity,” which represented continuous activation following transient exposure to environmental cVA. We introduced the silk moth receptor (BmOR1) in OR67d ORNs of snmp11 flies and found that the ORNs showed slow activation and deactivation kinetics in response to the BmOR1 ligand (bombykol). We expressed the bombykol receptor complex in Xenopus oocytes in the presence or absence of the silk moth SNMP1 (BmSNMP) and found that addition of BmSNMP accelerated receptor activation and deactivation. Our results thus clarify SNMP1 as an important player required for the rapid kinetics of the pheromone response in insects.
Author Summary
Pheromones are chemicals produced and released by animals for social communication with other members of their species. For example, male fruit flies produce a volatile pheromone that is sensed by both males and females, and which functions in gender recognition. This volatile male pheromone, called 11-cis vaccenyl acetate, is detected by olfactory neurons housed in hair-like appendages on the insect antenna. To effectively sense the pheromone, especially during navigation, the olfactory neurons must respond rapidly, and then quickly inactivate after the stimulation ceases. We found that a CD36-related protein referred to as sensory neuron membrane protein 1 (SNMP1) was required by olfactory neurons for the rapid on and off responses to 11-cis vaccenyl acetate. Loss of SNMP1 reduced the initial sensitivity to the pheromone, and then caused a strikingly slower termination of the response after removal of the pheromone. Our findings demonstrate that SNMP1 is a critical player that allows olfactory neurons to achieve sensitive and rapid on and off responses to a pheromone that is critical for social interactions in insects.
PMCID: PMC4177743  PMID: 25255106
3.  Functional Roles for Synaptic-Depression within a Model of the Fly Antennal Lobe 
PLoS Computational Biology  2012;8(8):e1002622.
Several experiments indicate that there exists substantial synaptic-depression at the synapses between olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) and neurons within the drosophila antenna lobe (AL). This synaptic-depression may be partly caused by vesicle-depletion, and partly caused by presynaptic-inhibition due to the activity of inhibitory local neurons within the AL. While it has been proposed that this synaptic-depression contributes to the nonlinear relationship between ORN and projection neuron (PN) firing-rates, the precise functional role of synaptic-depression at the ORN synapses is not yet fully understood. In this paper we propose two hypotheses linking the information-coding properties of the fly AL with the network mechanisms responsible for ORNAL synaptic-depression. Our first hypothesis is related to variance coding of ORN firing-rate information — once stimulation to the ORNs is sufficiently high to saturate glomerular responses, further stimulation of the ORNs increases the regularity of PN spiking activity while maintaining PN firing-rates. The second hypothesis proposes a tradeoff between spike-time reliability and coding-capacity governed by the relative contribution of vesicle-depletion and presynaptic-inhibition to ORNAL synaptic-depression. Synaptic-depression caused primarily by vesicle-depletion will give rise to a very reliable system, whereas an equivalent amount of synaptic-depression caused primarily by presynaptic-inhibition will give rise to a less reliable system that is more sensitive to small shifts in odor stimulation. These two hypotheses are substantiated by several small analyzable toy models of the fly AL, as well as a more physiologically realistic large-scale computational model of the fly AL involving glomerular channels.
Author Summary
Understanding the intricacies of sensory processing is a major scientific challenge. In this paper we examine the early stages of the olfactory system of the fruit-fly. Many experiments have revealed a great deal regarding the architecture of this system, including the types of neurons within it, as well as the connections those neurons make amongst one another. In this paper we examine the potential dynamics produced by this neuronal network. Specifically, we construct a computational model of this early olfactory system and study the effects of synaptic-depression within this system. We find that the dynamics and coding properties of this system depend strongly on the strength, and sources of, synaptic-depression. This work has ramifications for understanding the coding properties of other insect olfactory systems, and perhaps even other sensory modalities in other animals.
PMCID: PMC3426607  PMID: 22927802
4.  Differential GABAB-Receptor-Mediated Effects in Perisomatic- and Dendrite-Targeting Parvalbumin Interneurons 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2013;33(18):7961-7974.
Inhibitory parvalbumin-containing interneurons (PVIs) control neuronal discharge and support the generation of theta- and gamma-frequency oscillations in cortical networks. Fast GABAergic input onto PVIs is crucial for their synchronization and oscillatory entrainment, but the role of metabotropic GABAB receptors (GABABRs) in mediating slow presynaptic and postsynaptic inhibition remains unknown. In this study, we have combined high-resolution immunoelectron microscopy, whole-cell patch-clamp recording, and computational modeling to investigate the subcellular distribution and effects of GABABRs and their postsynaptic effector Kir3 channels in rat hippocampal PVIs. Pre-embedding immunogold labeling revealed that the receptors and channels localize at high levels to the extrasynaptic membrane of parvalbumin-immunoreactive dendrites. Immunoreactivity for GABABRs was also present at lower levels on PVI axon terminals. Whole-cell recordings further showed that synaptically released GABA in response to extracellular stimulation evokes large GABABR-mediated slow IPSCs in perisomatic-targeting (PT) PVIs, but only small or no currents in dendrite-targeting (DT) PVIs. In contrast, paired recordings demonstrated that GABABR activation results in presynaptic inhibition at the output synapses of both PT and DT PVIs, but more strongly in the latter. Finally, computational analysis indicated that GABAB IPSCs can phasically modulate the discharge of PT interneurons at theta frequencies. In summary, our results show that GABABRs differentially mediate slow presynaptic and postsynaptic inhibition in PVIs and can contribute to the dynamic modulation of their activity during oscillations. Furthermore, these data provide evidence for a compartment-specific molecular divergence of hippocampal PVI subtypes, suggesting that activation of GABABRs may shift the balance between perisomatic and dendritic inhibition.
PMCID: PMC3814621  PMID: 23637187
5.  Olfactory Processing and Behavior Downstream from Highly Selective Receptor Neurons 
Nature neuroscience  2007;10(5):623-630.
In either the vertebrate nose or the insect antenna, most olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) respond to multiple odors. However, some ORNs respond to just a single odor, or at most to a few highly related odors. It has been hypothesized that narrowly-tuned ORNs project to narrowly-tuned neurons in the brain, and that these dedicated circuits mediate innate behavioral responses to a particular ligand. Here we have investigated neural activity and behavior downstream from two narrowly-tuned ORN types in Drosophila. We found that genetically ablating either of these ORN types impairs innate behavioral attraction to their cognate ligand. Neurons in the antennal lobe postsynaptic to one of these ORN types are, like their presynaptic ORNs, narrowly tuned to a pheromone. However, neurons postsynaptic to the second ORN type are broadly tuned. These results demonstrate that some narrowly-tuned ORNs project to dedicated central circuits, ensuring a tight connection between stimulus and behavior, whereas others project to central neurons which participate in the ensemble representations of many odors.
PMCID: PMC2838507  PMID: 17417635
6.  Notch Is Required in Adult Drosophila Sensory Neurons for Morphological and Functional Plasticity of the Olfactory Circuit 
PLoS Genetics  2015;11(5):e1005244.
Olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) convey odor information to the central brain, but like other sensory neurons were thought to play a passive role in memory formation and storage. Here we show that Notch, part of an evolutionarily conserved intercellular signaling pathway, is required in adult Drosophila ORNs for the structural and functional plasticity of olfactory glomeruli that is induced by chronic odor exposure. Specifically, we show that Notch activity in ORNs is necessary for the odor specific increase in the volume of glomeruli that occurs as a consequence of prolonged odor exposure. Calcium imaging experiments indicate that Notch in ORNs is also required for the chronic odor induced changes in the physiology of ORNs and the ensuing changes in the physiological response of their second order projection neurons (PNs). We further show that Notch in ORNs acts by both canonical cleavage-dependent and non-canonical cleavage-independent pathways. The Notch ligand Delta (Dl) in PNs switches the balance between the pathways. These data define a circuit whereby, in conjunction with odor, N activity in the periphery regulates the activity of neurons in the central brain and Dl in the central brain regulates N activity in the periphery. Our work highlights the importance of experience dependent plasticity at the first olfactory synapse.
Author Summary
Appropriate behavioral responses to changing environmental signals, such as odors, are essential for an organism’s survival. In Drosophila odors are detected by olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) that synapse with second order projection neurons (PNs) and local interneurons in morphologically identifiable neuropils in the antennal lobe called glomeruli. Chronic odor exposure leads to changes in animal behavior as well as to changes in the activity of neurons in the olfactory circuit and increases in the volume of glomeruli. Here, we establish that Notch, an evolutionarily conserved transmembrane receptor that plays profound and pervasive roles in animal development, is required in adult Drosophila ORNs for functional and morphological plasticity in response to chronic odor exposure. These findings are significant because they point to a role for Notch in regulating activity dependent plasticity. Furthermore, we show that in regulating the odor dependent change in glomerular volume, Notch acts by both non-canonical, cleavage-independent and canonical, cleavage-dependent mechanisms, with the Notch ligand Delta in PNs switching the balance between the pathways. Because both the Notch pathway and the processing of olfactory information are highly conserved between flies and vertebrates these findings are likely to be of general relevance.
PMCID: PMC4444342  PMID: 26011623
7.  Differential Regulation of GABAB Receptor Trafficking by Different Modes of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) Receptor Signaling* 
The Journal of Biological Chemistry  2014;289(10):6681-6694.
Background: Heterodimerization of GABAB1 and GABAB2 subunits is required for functional GABABRs.
Results: GABABR subunits are differentially regulated by activation of synaptic or extrasynaptic NMDARs.
Conclusion: GABABR trafficking and function is regulated by NMDARs.
Significance: GABABRs are potential targets for treating diseases such as stroke and cerebral ischemia.
Inhibitory GABAB receptors (GABABRs) can down-regulate most excitatory synapses in the CNS by reducing postsynaptic excitability. Functional GABABRs are heterodimers of GABAB1 and GABAB2 subunits and here we show that the trafficking and surface expression of GABABRs is differentially regulated by synaptic or pathophysiological activation of NMDA receptors (NMDARs). Activation of synaptic NMDARs using a chemLTP protocol increases GABABR recycling and surface expression. In contrast, excitotoxic global activation of synaptic and extrasynaptic NMDARs by bath application of NMDA causes the loss of surface GABABRs. Intriguingly, exposing neurons to extreme metabolic stress using oxygen/glucose deprivation (OGD) increases GABAB1 but decreases GABAB2 surface expression. The increase in surface GABAB1 involves enhanced recycling and is blocked by the NMDAR antagonist AP5. The decrease in surface GABAB2 is also blocked by AP5 and by inhibiting degradation pathways. These results indicate that NMDAR activity is critical in GABABR trafficking and function and that the individual subunits can be separately controlled to regulate neuronal responsiveness and survival.
PMCID: PMC3945329  PMID: 24425870
G Protein-coupled Receptors (GPCR); GABA Receptors; Glutamate Receptor Ionotropic (AMPA, NMDA); Neurodegeneration; Neurotransmitter Receptors; Receptor Endocytosis; Receptor Recycling; GABAB Receptor; Chem-LTP; Oxygen-glucose Deprivation (OGD)
8.  Extremely Sparse Olfactory Inputs Are Sufficient to Mediate Innate Aversion in Drosophila 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0125986.
Innate attraction and aversion to odorants are observed throughout the animal kingdom, but how olfactory circuits encode such valences is not well understood, despite extensive anatomical and functional knowledge. In Drosophila melanogaster, ~50 types of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) each express a unique receptor gene, and relay information to a cognate type of projection neurons (PNs). To examine the extent to which the population activity of ORNs is required for olfactory behavior, we developed a genetic strategy to block all ORN outputs, and then to restore output in specific types. Unlike attraction, aversion was unaffected by simultaneous silencing of many ORNs, and even single ORN types previously shown to convey neutral valence sufficed to mediate aversion. Thus, aversion may rely on specific activity patterns in individual ORNs rather than the number or identity of activated ORNs. ORN activity is relayed into the brain by downstream circuits, with excitatory PNs (ePN) representing a major output. We found that silencing the majority of ePNs did not affect aversion, even when ePNs directly downstream of single restored ORN types were silenced. Our data demonstrate the robustness of olfactory aversion, and suggest that its circuit mechanism is qualitatively different from attraction.
PMCID: PMC4416024  PMID: 25927233
9.  Selective gating of glutamatergic inputs to excitatory neurons of amygdala by presynaptic GABAb receptor 
Neuron  2009;61(6):917-929.
GABAb receptor (GABAbR)-mediated suppression of glutamate release is critical for limiting glutamatergic transmission across the central nervous system. Here we show that, upon tetanic stimulation of afferents to lateral amygdala, presynaptic GABAbR-mediated inhibition only occurs in glutamatergic inputs to principle neurons (PNs), but not to interneurons (INs), despite the presence of GABAbR in terminals to both types of neurons. The selectivity is caused by differential local GABA accumulation; it requires GABA reuptake, and parallels distinct spatial distributions of presynaptic GABAbR in terminals to PNs and INs. Moreover, GABAbR-mediated suppression of theta-burst induced long-term potentiation (LTP) occurs only in the inputs to PNs, but not to INs. Thus, target cell-specific control of glutamate release by presynaptic GABAbR orchestrates the inhibitory dominance inside amygdala and may contribute to prevention of non-adaptive defensive behaviors.
PMCID: PMC2673456  PMID: 19324000
10.  A carboxylesterase, Esterase-6, modulates sensory physiological and behavioral response dynamics to pheromone in Drosophila 
BMC Biology  2012;10:56.
Insects respond to the spatial and temporal dynamics of a pheromone plume, which implies not only a strong response to 'odor on', but also to 'odor off'. This requires mechanisms geared toward a fast signal termination. Several mechanisms may contribute to signal termination, among which odorant-degrading enzymes. These enzymes putatively play a role in signal dynamics by a rapid inactivation of odorants in the vicinity of the sensory receptors, although direct in vivo experimental evidences are lacking. Here we verified the role of an extracellular carboxylesterase, esterase-6 (Est-6), in the sensory physiological and behavioral dynamics of Drosophila melanogaster response to its pheromone, cis-vaccenyl acetate (cVA). Est-6 was previously linked to post-mating effects in the reproductive system of females. As Est-6 is also known to hydrolyze cVA in vitro and is expressed in the main olfactory organ, the antenna, we tested here its role in olfaction as a putative odorant-degrading enzyme.
We first confirm that Est-6 is highly expressed in olfactory sensilla, including cVA-sensitive sensilla, and we show that expression is likely associated with non-neuronal cells. Our electrophysiological approaches show that the dynamics of olfactory receptor neuron (ORN) responses is strongly influenced by Est-6, as in Est-6° null mutants (lacking the Est-6 gene) cVA-sensitive ORN showed increased firing rate and prolonged activity in response to cVA. Est-6° mutant males had a lower threshold of behavioral response to cVA, as revealed by the analysis of two cVA-induced behaviors. In particular, mutant males exhibited a strong decrease of male-male courtship, in association with a delay in courtship initiation.
Our study presents evidence that Est-6 plays a role in the physiological and behavioral dynamics of sex pheromone response in Drosophila males and supports a role of Est-6 as an odorant-degrading enzyme (ODE) in male antennae. Our results also expand the role of Est-6 in Drosophila biology, from reproduction to olfaction, and highlight the role of ODEs in insect olfaction.
PMCID: PMC3414785  PMID: 22715942
carboxylesterase; esterase 6; olfaction; pheromone; signal termination
11.  Inhibition of Olfactory Receptor Neuron Input to Olfactory Bulb Glomeruli Mediated by Suppression of Presynaptic Calcium Influx 
Journal of neurophysiology  2005;94(4):2700-2712.
We investigated the cellular mechanism underlying presynaptic regulation of olfactory receptor neuron (ORN) input to the mouse olfactory bulb using optical-imaging techniques that selectively report activity in the ORN pre-synaptic terminal. First, we loaded ORNs with calcium-sensitive dye and imaged stimulus-evoked calcium influx in a slice preparation. Single olfactory nerve shocks evoked rapid fluorescence increases that were largely blocked by the N-type calcium channel blocker ω-conotoxin GVIA. Paired shocks revealed a long-lasting suppression of calcium influx with ~40% suppression at 400-ms interstimulus intervals and a recovery time constant of ~450 ms. Blocking activation of postsynaptic olfactory bulb neurons with APV/CNQX reduced this suppression. The GABAB receptor agonist baclofen inhibited calcium influx, whereas GABAB antagonists reduced paired-pulse suppression without affecting the response to the conditioning pulse. We also imaged transmitter release directly using a mouse line that expresses synaptopHluorin selectively in ORNs. We found that the relationship between calcium influx and transmitter release was superlinear and that paired-pulse suppression of transmitter release was reduced, but not eliminated, by APV/CNQX and GABAB antagonists. These results demonstrate that primary olfactory input to the CNS can be presynaptically regulated by GABAergic interneurons and show that one major intracellular pathway for this regulation is via the suppression of calcium influx through N-type calcium channels in the pre-synaptic terminal. This mechanism is unique among primary sensory afferents.
PMCID: PMC1282456  PMID: 15917320
12.  Plasticity of postsynaptic, but not presynaptic, GABAB receptors in SSADH deficient mice 
Experimental neurology  2010;225(1):114-122.
Succinic semialdehyde dehydrogenase (SSADH) deficiency is an autosomal-recessively inherited disorder of γ-aminobutyrate (GABA) catabolism characterized by ataxia and epilepsy. Since SSADH is responsible for GABA break-down downstream of GABA transaminase, patients manifest high extracellular levels of GABA, as well as the GABAB receptor (GABABR) agonist γ-hydroxybutyrate (GHB). SSADH knockout (KO) mice display absence seizures, which progress into lethal tonic-clonic seizures at around 3 weeks of age. It is hypothesized that desensitization of GABABRs plays an important role in the disease, although detailed studies of pre- and postsynaptic GABABRs are not available. We performed patch-clamp recordings from layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons in neocortical brain slices of wild-type (WT) and SSADH KO mice. Electrical stimulation of GABAergic fibers during wash in of the GABABR agonist baclofen revealed no difference in presynaptic GABABR mediated inhibition of GABA release between WT and SSADH KO mice. In contrast, a significant decrease in postsynaptic baclofen-induced potassium currents was seen in SSADH KO mice. This reduction was unlikely to be caused by accumulation of potassium, GABA or GHB in the brain slices, or an altered expression of regulators of G-protein signaling (RGS) proteins. Finally, adenosine-induced potassium currents were also reduced in SSADH KO mice, which could suggest heterologous desensitization of the G-protein dependent effectors, leading to a reduction in G-protein coupled inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK) channel responses. Our findings indicate that high GABA and GHB levels desensitize postsynaptic, but not certain presynaptic, GABABRs, promoting a decrease in GIRK channel function. These changes could contribute to the development of seizures in SSADH KO mice and potentially also in affected patients.
PMCID: PMC3654531  PMID: 20570675
GABA; GHB; GABAB; GIRK; heterologous desensitization; SSADH; neocortex; epilepsy; patch-clamp
13.  Presynaptic GABAB Receptors Decrease Neurotransmitter Release in Vestibular Nuclei Neurons During Vestibular Compensation 
Neuroscience  2012;223:333-354.
Unilateral damage to the peripheral vestibular receptors precipitates a debilitating syndrome of oculomotor and balance deficits at rest, which extensively normalize during the first week after the lesion due to vestibular compensation. In vivo studies suggest that GABAB receptor activation facilitates recovery. However, the presynaptic or postsynaptic sites of action of GABAB receptors in vestibular nuclei neurons after lesions have not been determined. Accordingly, here presynaptic and postsynaptic GABAB receptor activity in principal cells of the tangential nucleus, a major avian vestibular nucleus, was investigated using patch-clamp recordings correlated with immunolabeling and confocal imaging of the GABAB receptor subunit-2 (GABABR2) in controls and operated chickens shortly after unilateral vestibular ganglionectomy (UVG). Baclofen, a GABAB agonist, generated no postsynaptic currents in principal cells in controls, which correlated with weak GABABR2 immunolabeling on principal cell surfaces. However, baclofen decreased miniature excitatory (mEPSC) and GABAergic inhibitory (mIPSC) events in principal cells in controls, compensating and uncompensated chickens three days after UVG, indicating the presence of functional GABAB receptors on presynaptic terminals. Baclofen decreased GABAergic mIPSC frequency to the greatest extent in principal cells on the intact side of compensating chickens, with concurrent increases in GABABR2 pixel brightness and percentage overlap in synaptotagmin2 (Syt2)-labeled terminals. In uncompensated chickens, baclofen decreased mEPSC frequency to the greatest extent in principal cells on the intact side, with concurrent increases in GABABR2 pixel brightness and percentage overlap in Syt1-labeled terminals. Altogether, these results revealed changes in presynaptic GABAB receptor function and expression which differed in compensating and uncompensated chickens shortly after UVG. This work supports an important role for GABAB autoreceptor-mediated inhibition in vestibular nuclei neurons on the intact side during early stages of vestibular compensation, and a role for GABAB heteroreceptor-mediated inhibition of glutamatergic terminals on the intact side in the failure to recover function.
PMCID: PMC4106701  PMID: 22871524
vestibular deafferentation; synaptic plasticity; presynaptic receptors; excitation; inhibition
14.  Methamphetamine-evoked depression of GABAB receptor signaling in GABA neurons of the VTA 
Neuron  2012;73(5):978-989.
Psychostimulants induce neuroadaptations in excitatory and fast inhibitory transmission in the ventral tegmental area (VTA). Mechanisms underlying drug-evoked synaptic plasticity of slow inhibitory transmission mediated by GABAB receptors and G protein-gated inwardly rectifying potassium (GIRK/Kir3) channels, however, are poorly understood. Here, we show that one day after methamphetamine (METH) or cocaine exposure, both synaptically-evoked and baclofen-activated GABABR-GIRK currents were significantly depressed in VTA GABA neurons, and remained depressed for 7 days. Presynaptic inhibition mediated by GABABRs on GABA terminals was also weakened. Quantitative immunoelectron microscopy revealed internalization of GABAB1R and GIRK2, which occurred coincident with dephosphorylation of Ser783 in GABAB2R, a site implicated in regulating GABABR surface expression. Inhibition of protein phosphatases recovered GABABR-GIRK currents in VTA GABA neurons of METH-injected mice. This psychostimulant-evoked impairment in GABABR signaling removes an intrinsic brake on GABA neuron spiking, which may augment GABA transmission in the mesocorticolimbic system.
PMCID: PMC3560416  PMID: 22405207
15.  Intensity invariant dynamics and odor-specific latencies in olfactory receptor neuron response 
Odors elicit spatio-temporal patterns of activity in the brain. Spatial patterns arise from the specificity of the interaction between odorants and odorant receptors expressed in different olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). But the origin of temporal patterns of activity and their role in odor coding remain unclear. We investigate how physiological aspects of ORN response and physical aspects of odor stimuli give rise to diverse responses in Drosophila ORNs. We show that odor stimuli have intrinsic dynamics that depend on odor type and strongly affect ORN response. Using linear-nonlinear modeling to remove the contribution of the stimulus dynamics from the ORN dynamics we study the physiological properties of the response to different odorants and concentrations. For several odorants and receptor types the ORN response dynamics normalized by the peak response are independent of stimulus intensity for a large portion of the neuron’s dynamic range. Adaptation to a background odor changes the gain and dynamic range of the response but does not affect normalized response dynamics. Stimulating ORNs with various odorants reveals significant odor-dependent delays in the ORN response functions. These differences however can be dominated by differences in stimulus dynamics. In one case the response of one ORN to two odorants is predicted solely from measurements of the odor signals. Within a large portion of their dynamic range ORNs can capture information about stimulus dynamics independently from intensity while introducing odor-dependent delays. How insects might use odor-specific stimulus dynamics and ORN dynamics in discrimination and navigation tasks remains an open question.
PMCID: PMC3678969  PMID: 23575828
16.  Dopamine Reduces Odor- and Elevated-K+-Induced Calcium Responses in Mouse Olfactory Receptor Neurons In Situ 
Journal of neurophysiology  2003;91(4):1492-1499.
Although D2 dopamine receptors have been localized to olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) and dopamine has been shown to modulate voltage-gated ion channels in ORNs, dopaminergic modulation of either odor responses or excitability in mammalian ORNs has not previously been demonstrated. We found that <50 µM dopamine reversibly suppresses odor-induced Ca2+ transients in ORNs. Confocal laser imaging of 300-µm-thick slices of neonatal mouse olfactory epithelium loaded with the Ca2+-indicator dye fluo-4 AM revealed that dopaminergic suppression of odor responses could be blocked by the D2 dopamine receptor antagonist sulpiride (<500 µM). The dopamine-induced suppression of odor responses was completely reversed by 100 µM nifedipine, suggesting that D2 receptor activation leads to an inhibition of L-type Ca2+ channels in ORNs. In addition, dopamine reversibly reduced ORN excitability as evidenced by reduced amplitude and frequency of Ca2+ transients in response to elevated K+, which activates voltage-gated Ca2+ channels in ORNs. As with the suppression of odor responses, the effects of dopamine on ORN excitability were blocked by the D2 dopamine receptor antagonist sulpiride (<500 µM). The observation of dopaminergic modulation of odor-induced Ca2+ transients in ORNs adds to the growing body of work showing that olfactory receptor neurons can be modulated at the periphery. Dopamine concentrations in nasal mucus increase in response to noxious stimuli, and thus D2 receptor-mediated suppression of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels may be a novel neuroprotective mechanism for ORNs.
PMCID: PMC2955887  PMID: 14657189
17.  Optogenetically Induced Olfactory Stimulation in Drosophila Larvae Reveals the Neuronal Basis of Odor-Aversion behavior 
Olfactory stimulation induces an odor-guided crawling behavior of Drosophila melanogaster larvae characterized by either an attractive or a repellent reaction. In order to understand the underlying processes leading to these orientations we stimulated single olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) through photo-activation within an intact neuronal network. Using the Gal4-UAS system two light inducible proteins, the light-sensitive cation channel channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR-2) or the light-sensitive adenylyl cyclase (Pacα) were expressed in all or in individual ORNs of the larval olfactory system. Blue light stimulation caused an activation of these neurons, ultimately producing the illusion of an odor stimulus. Larvae were tested in a phototaxis assay for their orientation toward or away from the light source. Here we show that activation of Pacα expressing ORNs bearing the receptors Or33b or Or45a in blind norpA mutant larvae induces a repellent behavior away from the light. Conversely, photo-activation of the majority of ORNs induces attraction towards the light. Interestingly, in wild type larvae two ligands of Or33b and Or45a, octyl acetate and propionic ethylester, respectively, have been found to cause an escape reaction. Therefore, we combined light and odor stimulation to analyze the function of Or33b and Or45a expressing ORNs. We show that the larval olfactory system contains a designated neuronal pathway for repellent odorants and that activation of a specific class of ORNs already determines olfactory avoidance behavior.
PMCID: PMC2889724  PMID: 20577637
Drosophila; olfaction; photo-activation; optogenetics; olfactory behavior; electrophysiology; channelrhodopsin-2; photo-activated adenylyl cyclase
Schizophrenia research  2013;150(0):366-372.
Emerging evidence points to proteoglycans abnormalities in the pathophysiology of schizophrenia (SZ). In particular, markedly abnormal expression of chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans (CSPGs), key components of the extracellular matrix, was observed in the medial temporal lobe. CSPG functions, including regulation of neuronal differentiation and migration, are highly relevant to the pathophysiology of SZ. CSPGs may exert similar functions in the olfactory epithelium (OE), a continuously regenerating neural tissue that shows cell and molecular abnormalities in SZ. We tested the hypothesis that CSPG expression in OE may be altered in SZ. CSPG-positive cells in postmortem OE from nonpsychiatric control (n=9) and SZ (n=10) subjects were counted using computer-assisted light microscopy. ‘Cytoplasmic’ CSPG (c-CSPG) labeling was detected in sustentacular cells and some olfactory receptor neurons (c-CSPG+ORNs), while ‘pericellular’ CSPG (p-CSPG) labeling was found in basal cells and some ORNs (p-CSPG+ORNs). Dual labeling for CSPG and markers for mature and immature ORNs suggests that c-CSPG+ORNs correspond to mature ORNs, and p-CSPG+ORNs to immature ORNs. Previous studies in the same cohort demonstrated that densities of mature ORNs were unaltered (Arnold et al, 2001). In the present study, numerical densities of c-CSPG+ORNs were significantly decreased in SZ (p <0.025; 99.32% decrease), suggesting a reduction of CSPG expression in mature ORNs. Previous studies showed a striking increase in the ratios of immature neurons with respect to basal cells. In this study, we find that the ratio of p-CSPG+ORNs/ CSPG+ basal cells was significantly increased (p=0.03) in SZ, while numerical density changes of p-CSPG+ORNs (110.71% increase) or CSPG+ basal cells (53.71% decrease), did not reach statistical significance. Together, these results indicate that CSPG abnormalities are present in the OE of SZ and specifically point to a reduction of CSPGs expression in mature ORNs in SZ. Given the role CSPG play in OE cell differentiation and axon guidance, we suggest that altered CSPG expression may contribute to ORN lineage dysregulation, and olfactory identification abnormalities, observed in SZ.
PMCID: PMC4215560  PMID: 24035561
Schizophrenia; extracellular matrix; chondroitin sulfate proteoglycans; olfactory epitheliu; postmortem
19.  Testing the sorption hypothesis in olfaction: A limited role for sniff strength in shaping primary odor representations during behavior 
The acquisition of sensory information during behavior shapes the neural representation, central processing and perception of external stimuli. In mammals, a sniff represents the basic unit of odor sampling, yet how sniffing shapes odor representations remains poorly understood. Perhaps the earliest hypothesis of the role of sniffing in olfaction arises from the fact that odorants with different physicochemical properties exhibit different patterns of deposition across the olfactory epithelium, and that these patterns are differentially affected by flow rate. However, whether sniff flow rates shape odor representations during natural sniffing remains untested, and whether animals make use of odorant sorption - airflow relationships as part of an active odor sampling strategy remains unclear. We tested these ideas in the intact rat using a three-fold approach. First, we asked whether sniff strength shapes odor representations in vivo by imaging from olfactory receptor neuron (ORN) terminals during controlled changes in inhalation flow in the anesthetized rat. Second, we asked whether sniff strength shapes odor representations by imaging from ORNs during natural sniffing in the awake rat. Third, we asked whether rats actively modulate sniff strength during an odor discrimination task. We found that, while artificial changes in flow rate can alter ORN responses, sniff strength has negligible effect on odor representations during natural sniffing, and behaving rats do not modulate flow rate to improve odor discrimination. These data suggest that modulating sniff strength does not shape odor representations sufficiently to be part of a strategy for active odor sensing in the behaving animal.
PMCID: PMC3710131  PMID: 23283324
20.  Classes and Narrowing Selectivity of Olfactory Receptor Neurons of Xenopus laevis Tadpoles 
The Journal of General Physiology  2004;123(2):99-107.
In olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) of aquatic animals amino acids have been shown to be potent stimuli. Here we report on calcium imaging experiments in slices of the olfactory mucosa of Xenopus laevis tadpoles. We were able to determine the response profiles of 283 ORNs to 19 amino acids, where one profile comprises the responses of one ORN to 19 amino acids. 204 out of the 283 response profiles differed from each other. 36 response spectra occurred more than once, i.e., there were 36 classes of ORNs identically responding to the 19 amino acids. The number of ORNs that formed a class ranged from 2 to 13. Shape and duration of amino acid-elicited [Ca2+]i transients showed a high degree of similarity upon repeated stimulation with the same amino acid. Different amino acids, however, in some cases led to clearly distinguishable calcium responses in individual ORNs. Furthermore, ORNs clearly appeared to gain selectivity over time, i.e., ORNs of later developmental stages responded to less amino acids than ORNs of earlier stages. We discuss the narrowing of ORN selectivity over stages in the context of expression of olfactory receptors.
PMCID: PMC2217426  PMID: 14744986
mucosa slice; calcium imaging; amino acids; odorants
21.  Gap junctions in olfactory neurons modulate olfactory sensitivity 
BMC Neuroscience  2010;11:108.
One of the fundamental questions in olfaction is whether olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) behave as independent entities within the olfactory epithelium. On the basis that mature ORNs express multiple connexins, I postulated that gap junctional communication modulates olfactory responses in the periphery and that disruption of gap junctions in ORNs reduces olfactory sensitivity. The data collected from characterizing connexin 43 (Cx43) dominant negative transgenic mice OlfDNCX, and from calcium imaging of wild type mice (WT) support my hypothesis.
I generated OlfDNCX mice that express a dominant negative Cx43 protein, Cx43/β-gal, in mature ORNs to inactivate gap junctions and hemichannels composed of Cx43 or other structurally related connexins. Characterization of OlfDNCX revealed that Cx43/β-gal was exclusively expressed in areas where mature ORNs resided. Real time quantitative PCR indicated that cellular machineries of OlfDNCX were normal in comparison to WT. Electroolfactogram recordings showed decreased olfactory responses to octaldehyde, heptaldehyde and acetyl acetate in OlfDNCX compared to WT. Octaldehyde-elicited glomerular activity in the olfactory bulb, measured according to odor-elicited c-fos mRNA upregulation in juxtaglomerular cells, was confined to smaller areas of the glomerular layer in OlfDNCX compared to WT. In WT mice, octaldehyde sensitive neurons exhibited reduced response magnitudes after application of gap junction uncoupling reagents and the effects were specific to subsets of neurons.
My study has demonstrated that altered assembly of Cx43 or structurally related connexins in ORNs modulates olfactory responses and changes olfactory activation maps in the olfactory bulb. Furthermore, pharmacologically uncoupling of gap junctions reduces olfactory activity in subsets of ORNs. These data suggest that gap junctional communication or hemichannel activity plays a critical role in maintaining olfactory sensitivity and odor perception.
PMCID: PMC2944353  PMID: 20796318
22.  Functional Differences between Global Pre- and Postsynaptic Inhibition in the Drosophila Olfactory Circuit 
The Drosophila antennal lobe is subdivided into multiple glomeruli, each of which represents a unique olfactory information processing channel. In each glomerulus, feedforward input from olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) is transformed into activity of projection neurons (PNs), which represent the output. Recent investigations have indicated that lateral presynaptic inhibitory input from other glomeruli controls the gain of this transformation. Here, we address why this gain control acts “pre”-synaptically rather than “post”-synaptically. Postsynaptic inhibition could work similarly to presynaptic inhibition with regard to regulating the firing rates of PNs depending on the stimulus intensity. We investigate the differences between pre- and postsynaptic gain control in terms of odor discriminability by simulating a network model of the Drosophila antennal lobe with experimental data. We first demonstrate that only presynaptic inhibition can reproduce the type of gain control observed in experiments. We next show that presynaptic inhibition decorrelates PN responses whereas postsynaptic inhibition does not. Due to this effect, presynaptic gain control enhances the accuracy of odor discrimination by a linear decoder while its postsynaptic counterpart only diminishes it. Our results provide the reason gain control operates “pre”-synaptically but not “post”-synaptically in the Drosophila antennal lobe.
PMCID: PMC3309306  PMID: 22470334
Drosophila; antennal lobe; odor discriminability; presynaptic inhibition; postsynaptic inhibition; gain control; decorrelation; concentration invariance
23.  A Regulatory Code for Neuron-Specific Odor Receptor Expression 
PLoS Biology  2008;6(5):e125.
Olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) must select—from a large repertoire—which odor receptors to express. In Drosophila, most ORNs express one of 60 Or genes, and most Or genes are expressed in a single ORN class in a process that produces a stereotyped receptor-to-neuron map. The construction of this map poses a problem of receptor gene regulation that is remarkable in its dimension and about which little is known. By using a phylogenetic approach and the genome sequences of 12 Drosophila species, we systematically identified regulatory elements that are evolutionarily conserved and specific for individual Or genes of the maxillary palp. Genetic analysis of these elements supports a model in which each receptor gene contains a zip code, consisting of elements that act positively to promote expression in a subset of ORN classes, and elements that restrict expression to a single ORN class. We identified a transcription factor, Scalloped, that mediates repression. Some elements are used in other chemosensory organs, and some are conserved upstream of axon-guidance genes. Surprisingly, the odor response spectra and organization of maxillary palp ORNs have been extremely well-conserved for tens of millions of years, even though the amino acid sequences of the receptors are not highly conserved. These results, taken together, define the logic by which individual ORNs in the maxillary palp select which odor receptors to express.
Author Summary
Odors are detected by olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs). Which odor an individual neuron detects is dictated by the odor receptors it expresses. Odor receptors are encoded by large families of genes, and an individual neuron must thus select the gene it expresses from among many possibilities. The mechanism underlying this choice is largely unknown. We have examined the problem of receptor gene choice in the fruit fly Drosophila, whose maxillary palp contains six functional classes of ORNs, each expressing different odor receptor genes. By comparing the DNA sequences flanking these genes in 12 different species of Drosophila, we have identified regulatory elements that are evolutionarily conserved and specific to each odor receptor. Genetic analysis of these elements showed that some act positively to dictate expression in a subset of ORNs, while others act negatively to restrict the expression of a receptor gene to a particular ORN class. We identified a transcription factor, Scalloped, that mediates repression. We were surprised to find that the odor response spectra of these neurons have been well-conserved for tens of millions of years, even though the amino acid sequences of their receptors have diverged considerably.
How does an olfactory receptor neuron select which odor receptor to express? A computational analysis of 12Drosophila genomes combined with mutational analysis identifies conservedcis elements and defines a regulatory code.
PMCID: PMC2430909  PMID: 18846726
24.  Altered olfactory epithelial structure and function in feline models of mucopolysaccharidoses I and VI 
The mucopolysaccharidoses (MPS) are a family of lysosomal storage diseases resulting in developmental defects and, in some types, mental retardation and other neurological symptoms. To gain insight into the neurological dysfunction in MPS, we examined the morphology of olfactory epithelia (OE) and physiology of olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs) in cat models of MPS I, a type in which neuronal lesions are prominent, and MPS VI, in which they are essentially absent. Histopathology showed that both groups of MPS-affected cats had significantly thinner olfactory epithelia than controls. While immature and mature ORNs were present in both MPS I and VI affected OE, the OE of MPS I-affected cats was structurally disorganized. ORN function was assessed with calcium imaging and patch-clamp recording. Few viable ORNs were recovered from MPS VI cats, but these exhibited normal responses to odors and pharmacological stimuli. In contrast, viable ORNs were as prevalent in MPS I as in controls, but were significantly less likely to respond to odor stimuli, although other responses were normal. Disrupted OE organization and impaired ORN function in MPS I, but not MPS VI, corresponds to the central nervous system (CNS) lesions found in MPS I but not MPS VI. These data represent the first neurophysiological correlate of this correspondence and have implications for understanding both the role of glycosaminoglycans in maintenance of the OE, as well as for targeting further research into the basis for and treatment of the neurological consequences of MPS disorders.
PMCID: PMC2567241  PMID: 18803239
receptors; nose; cell physiology; animal model; lysosomal storage; glycosaminoglycan
25.  Avoiding DEET through insect gustatory receptors 
Neuron  2010;67(4):555-561.
DEET is the most widely used insect repellent worldwide. In Drosophila olfactory receptor neurons (ORNs), DEET is detected through a mechanism that employs the olfactory receptor, OR83b. However, it is controversial as to whether ORNs respond directly to DEET or whether DEET blocks the response to attractive odors. Here, we showed that DEET suppressed feeding behavior in Drosophila and this effect was mediated by gustatory receptor neurons (GRNs). DEET was potent in suppressing feeding as <0.1% DEET elicited aversive behavior. Inhibition of feeding by DEET required multiple gustatory receptors (GRs), which were expressed in inhibitory GRNs. DEET stimulated action potentials in GRNs that respond to aversive compounds, and this response was lost in Gr32a, Gr33a and Gr66a mutants. Since 0.02% DEET elicited action potentials, we conclude that DEET directly activates of GRNs. We suggest that the effectiveness of DEET in pest control owes to its dual action in inducing avoidance simultaneously via GRNs and ORNs.
PMCID: PMC2929391  PMID: 20797533

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