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author:("Tell, fabian")
1.  Serotonin, Dopamine and Noradrenaline Adjust Actions of Myelinated Afferents via Modulation of Presynaptic Inhibition in the Mouse Spinal Cord 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e89999.
Gain control of primary afferent neurotransmission at their intraspinal terminals occurs by several mechanisms including primary afferent depolarization (PAD). PAD produces presynaptic inhibition via a reduction in transmitter release. While it is known that descending monoaminergic pathways complexly regulate sensory processing, the extent these actions include modulation of afferent-evoked PAD remains uncertain. We investigated the effects of serotonin (5HT), dopamine (DA) and noradrenaline (NA) on afferent transmission and PAD. Responses were evoked by stimulation of myelinated hindlimb cutaneous and muscle afferents in the isolated neonatal mouse spinal cord. Monosynaptic responses were examined in the deep dorsal horn either as population excitatory synaptic responses (recorded as extracellular field potentials; EFPs) or intracellular excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs). The magnitude of PAD generated intraspinally was estimated from electrotonically back-propagating dorsal root potentials (DRPs) recorded on lumbar dorsal roots. 5HT depressed the DRP by 76%. Monosynaptic actions were similarly depressed by 5HT (EFPs 54%; EPSCs 75%) but with a slower time course. This suggests that depression of monosynaptic EFPs and DRPs occurs by independent mechanisms. DA and NA had similar depressant actions on DRPs but weaker effects on EFPs. IC50 values for DRP depression were 0.6, 0.8 and 1.0 µM for 5HT, DA and NA, respectively. Depression of DRPs by monoamines was nearly-identical in both muscle and cutaneous afferent-evoked responses, supporting a global modulation of the multimodal afferents stimulated. 5HT, DA and NA produced no change in the compound antidromic potentials evoked by intraspinal microstimulation indicating that depression of the DRP is unrelated to direct changes in the excitability of intraspinal afferent fibers, but due to metabotropic receptor activation. In summary, both myelinated afferent-evoked DRPs and monosynaptic transmission in the dorsal horn are broadly reduced by descending monoamine transmitters. These actions likely integrate with modulatory actions elsewhere to reconfigure spinal circuits during motor behaviors.
PMCID: PMC3938568  PMID: 24587177
2.  Specific Relationship between Excitatory Inputs and Climbing Fiber Receptive Fields in Deep Cerebellar Nuclear Neurons 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e84616.
Many mossy fiber pathways to the neurons of the deep cerebellar nucleus (DCN) originate from the spinal motor circuitry. For cutaneously activated spinal neurons, the receptive field is a tag indicating the specific motor function the spinal neuron has. Similarly, the climbing fiber receptive field of the DCN neuron reflects the specific motor output function of the DCN neuron. To explore the relationship between the motor information the DCN neuron receives and the output it issues, we made patch clamp recordings of DCN cell responses to tactile skin stimulation in the forelimb region of the anterior interposed nucleus in vivo. The excitatory responses were organized according to a general principle, in which the DCN cell responses became stronger the closer the skin site was located to its climbing fiber receptive field. The findings represent a novel functional principle of cerebellar connectivity, with crucial importance for our understanding of the function of the cerebellum in movement coordination.
PMCID: PMC3885585  PMID: 24416251
3.  Cerebellar Cortex Granular Layer Interneurons in the Macaque Monkey Are Functionally Driven by Mossy Fiber Pathways through Net Excitation or Inhibition 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82239.
The granular layer is the input layer of the cerebellar cortex. It receives information through mossy fibers, which contact local granular layer interneurons (GLIs) and granular layer output neurons (granule cells). GLIs provide one of the first signal processing stages in the cerebellar cortex by exciting or inhibiting granule cells. Despite the importance of this early processing stage for later cerebellar computations, the responses of GLIs and the functional connections of mossy fibers with GLIs in awake animals are poorly understood. Here, we recorded GLIs and mossy fibers in the macaque ventral-paraflocculus (VPFL) during oculomotor tasks, providing the first full inventory of GLI responses in the VPFL of awake primates. We found that while mossy fiber responses are characterized by a linear monotonic relationship between firing rate and eye position, GLIs show complex response profiles characterized by “eye position fields” and single or double directional tunings. For the majority of GLIs, prominent features of their responses can be explained by assuming that a single GLI receives inputs from mossy fibers with similar or opposite directional preferences, and that these mossy fiber inputs influence GLI discharge through net excitatory or inhibitory pathways. Importantly, GLIs receiving mossy fiber inputs through these putative excitatory and inhibitory pathways show different firing properties, suggesting that they indeed correspond to two distinct classes of interneurons. We propose a new interpretation of the information flow through the cerebellar cortex granular layer, in which mossy fiber input patterns drive the responses of GLIs not only through excitatory but also through net inhibitory pathways, and that excited and inhibited GLIs can be identified based on their responses and their intrinsic properties.
PMCID: PMC3869689  PMID: 24376524
4.  Nitric Oxide Signaling Exerts Bidirectional Effects on Plasticity Inductions in Amygdala 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74668.
It has been well known that long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic transmission in the lateral nucleus of the amygdala (LA) constitutes an essential cellular mechanism contributing to encoding of conditioned fear. Nitric oxide (NO), produced by activation of the postsynaptic N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors (NMDAR) in thalamic input to the LA, has been thought to promote LTP, contributing to the establishment of conditioned fear. However, it is not known whether and how NO, released from cortical input to the LA, plays the role on the plasticity induction and fear memory. Here we report that the diffusion of NO, released in response to activation of presynaptic NMDAR on cortical afferent fibers in the LA, could suppress heterosynaptically a form of presynaptic kainate receptor (KAR) dependent LTP (pre-LTP) in thalamic input, which was induced by low-frequency presynaptic stimuli without postsynaptic depolarization. We also confirmed that NO, produced by activation of postsynaptic NMDAR in thalamic input, can promote postsynaptic NMDAR-dependent LTP (post-LTP), which was induced by pairing protocol. These LTPs were occluded following fear conditioning, indicating that they could contribute to encoding of conditioned fear memory. However, their time courses are different; Post-LTP was more rapidly formed than pre-LTP in the course of fear conditioning. NO, produced by activation of presynaptic NMDAR in cortical input and postsynaptic NMDAR in thalamic input, may control conditioned fear by suppressing pre-LTP and promoting post-LTP, respectively, in thalamic input to the LA.
PMCID: PMC3783462  PMID: 24086360
5.  Vestibular Lesion-Induced Developmental Plasticity in Spinal Locomotor Networks during Xenopus laevis Metamorphosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71013.
During frog metamorphosis, the vestibular sensory system remains unchanged, while spinal motor networks undergo a massive restructuring associated with the transition from the larval to adult biomechanical system. We investigated in Xenopus laevis the impact of a pre- (tadpole stage) or post-metamorphosis (juvenile stage) unilateral labyrinthectomy (UL) on young adult swimming performance and underlying spinal locomotor circuitry. The acute disruptive effects on locomotion were similar in both tadpoles and juvenile frogs. However, animals that had metamorphosed with a preceding UL expressed restored swimming behavior at the juvenile stage, whereas animals lesioned after metamorphosis never recovered. Whilst kinematic and electrophysiological analyses of the propulsive system showed no significant differences in either juvenile group, a 3D biomechanical simulation suggested that an asymmetry in the dynamic control of posture during swimming could account for the behavioral restoration observed in animals that had been labyrinthectomized before metamorphosis. This hypothesis was subsequently supported by in vivo electromyography during free swimming and in vitro recordings from isolated brainstem/spinal cord preparations. Specifically, animals lesioned prior to metamorphosis at the larval stage exhibited an asymmetrical propulsion/posture coupling as a post-metamorphic young adult. This developmental alteration was accompanied by an ipsilesional decrease in propriospinal coordination that is normally established in strict left-right symmetry during metamorphosis in order to synchronize dorsal trunk muscle contractions with bilateral hindlimb extensions in the swimming adult. Our data thus suggest that a disequilibrium in descending vestibulospinal information during Xenopus metamorphosis leads to an altered assembly of adult spinal locomotor circuitry. This in turn enables an adaptive compensation for the dynamic postural asymmetry induced by the vestibular imbalance and the restoration of functionally-effective behavior.
PMCID: PMC3741378  PMID: 23951071
6.  Synaptic Connections between Endomorphin 2-Immunoreactive Terminals and μ-Opioid Receptor-Expressing Neurons in the Sacral Parasympathetic Nucleus of the Rat 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e62028.
The urinary bladder is innervated by parasympathetic preganglionic neurons (PPNs) that express μ-opioid receptors (MOR) in the sacral parasympathetic nucleus (SPN) at lumbosacral segments L6-S1. The SPN also contains endomorphin 2 (EM2)-immunoreactive (IR) fibers and terminals. EM2 is the endogenous ligand of MOR. In the present study, retrograde tract-tracing with cholera toxin subunit b (CTb) or wheat germ agglutinin-conjugated horseradish peroxidase (WGA-HRP) via the pelvic nerve combined with immunohistochemical staining for EM2 and MOR to identify PPNs within the SPN as well as synaptic connections between the EM2-IR terminals and MOR-expressing PPNs in the SPN of the rat. After CTb was injected into the pelvic nerve, CTb retrogradely labeled neurons were almost exclusively located in the lateral part of the intermediolateral gray matter at L6-S1 of the lumbosacral spinal cord. All of the them also expressed MOR. EM2-IR terminals formed symmetric synapses with MOR-IR, WGA-HRP-labeled and WGA-HRP/MOR double-labeled neuronal cell bodies and dendrites within the SPN. These results provided morphological evidence that EM2-containing axon terminals formed symmetric synapses with MOR-expressing PPNs in the SPN. The present results also show that EM2 and MOR might be involved in both the homeostatic control and information transmission of micturition.
PMCID: PMC3643968  PMID: 23671582
7.  Hyperpolarization-Activated Current (Ih) Is Reduced in Hippocampal Neurons from Gabra5−/− Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58679.
Changes in the expression of γ-aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors can either drive or mediate homeostatic alterations in neuronal excitability. A homeostatic relationship between α5 subunit-containing GABAA (α5GABAA) receptors that generate a tonic inhibitory conductance, and HCN channels that generate a hyperpolarization-activated cation current (Ih) was recently described for cortical neurons, where a reduction in Ih was accompanied by a reciprocal increase in the expression of α5GABAA receptors resulting in the preservation of dendritosomatic synaptic function. Here, we report that in mice that lack the α5 subunit gene (Gabra5−/−), cultured embryonic hippocampal pyramidal neurons and ex vivo CA1 hippocampal neurons unexpectedly exhibited a decrease in Ih current density (by 40% and 28%, respectively), compared with neurons from wild-type (WT) mice. The resting membrane potential and membrane hyperpolarization induced by blockade of Ih with ZD-7288 were similar in cultured WT and Gabra5−/− neurons. In contrast, membrane hyperpolarization measured after a train of action potentials was lower in Gabra5−/− neurons than in WT neurons. Also, membrane impedance measured in response to low frequency stimulation was greater in cultured Gabra5−/− neurons. Finally, the expression of HCN1 protein that generates Ih was reduced by 41% in the hippocampus of Gabra5−/− mice. These data indicate that loss of a tonic GABAergic inhibitory conductance was followed by a compensatory reduction in Ih. The results further suggest that the maintenance of resting membrane potential is preferentially maintained in mature and immature hippocampal neurons through the homeostatic co-regulation of structurally and biophysically distinct cation and anion channels.
PMCID: PMC3597723  PMID: 23516534
8.  Diffusion Barriers Constrain Receptors at Synapses 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e43032.
The flux of neurotransmitter receptors in and out of synapses depends on receptor interaction with scaffolding molecules. However, the crowd of transmembrane proteins and the rich cytoskeletal environment may constitute obstacles to the diffusion of receptors within the synapse. To address this question, we studied the membrane diffusion of the γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptor (GABAAR) subunits clustered (γ2) or not (α5) at inhibitory synapses in rat hippocampal dissociated neurons. Relative to the extrasynaptic region, γ2 and α5 showed reduced diffusion and increased confinement at both inhibitory and excitatory synapses but they dwelled for a short time at excitatory synapses. In contrast, γ2 was ∼3-fold more confined and dwelled ∼3-fold longer in inhibitory synapses than α5, indicating faster synaptic escape of α5. Furthermore, using a gephyrin dominant-negative approach, we showed that the increased residency time of γ2 at inhibitory synapses was due to receptor-scaffold interactions. As shown for GABAAR, the excitatory glutamate receptor 2 subunit (GluA2) of the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (AMPAR) had lower mobility in both excitatory and inhibitory synapses but a higher residency time at excitatory synapses. Therefore barriers impose significant diffusion constraints onto receptors at synapses where they accumulate or not. Our data further reveal that the confinement and the dwell time but not the diffusion coefficient report on the synapse specific sorting, trapping and accumulation of receptors.
PMCID: PMC3418229  PMID: 22912780
9.  Current and Calcium Responses to Local Activation of Axonal NMDA Receptors in Developing Cerebellar Molecular Layer Interneurons 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39983.
In developing cerebellar molecular layer interneurons (MLIs), NMDA increases spontaneous GABA release. This effect had been attributed to either direct activation of presynaptic NMDA receptors (preNMDARs) or an indirect pathway involving activation of somato-dendritic NMDARs followed by passive spread of somatic depolarization along the axon and activation of axonal voltage dependent Ca2+ channels (VDCCs). Using Ca2+ imaging and electrophysiology, we searched for preNMDARs by uncaging NMDAR agonists either broadly throughout the whole field or locally at specific axonal locations. Releasing either NMDA or glutamate in the presence of NBQX using short laser pulses elicited current transients that were highly sensitive to the location of the spot and restricted to a small number of varicosities. The signal was abolished in the presence of high Mg2+ or by the addition of APV. Similar paradigms yielded restricted Ca2+ transients in interneurons loaded with a Ca2+ indicator. We found that the synaptic effects of NMDA were not inhibited by blocking VDCCs but were impaired in the presence of the ryanodine receptor antagonist dantrolene. Furthermore, in voltage clamped cells, bath applied NMDA triggers Ca2+ elevations and induces neurotransmitter release in the axonal compartment. Our results suggest the existence of preNMDARs in developing MLIs and propose their involvement in the NMDA-evoked increase in GABA release by triggering a Ca2+-induced Ca2+ release process mediated by presynaptic Ca2+ stores. Such a mechanism is likely to exert a crucial role in various forms of Ca2+-mediated synaptic plasticity.
PMCID: PMC3384623  PMID: 22761940
10.  NMDA Receptors in GABAergic Synapses during Postnatal Development 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37753.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric-acid), the main inhibitory neurotransmitter in the adult brain, exerts depolarizing (excitatory) actions during development and this GABAergic depolarization cooperates with NMDARs (N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors) to drive spontaneous synchronous activity (SSA) that is fundamentally important for developing neuronal networks. Although GABAergic depolarization is known to assist in the activation of NMDARs during development, the subcellular localization of NMDARs relative to GABAergic synapses is still unknown. Here, we investigated the subcellular distribution of NMDARs in association with GABAergic synapses at the developmental stage when SSA is most prominent in mice. Using multiple immunofluorescent labeling and confocal laser-scanning microscopy in the developing mouse hippocampus, we found that NMDARs were associated with both glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses at postnatal day 6–7 and we observed a direct colocalization of GABAA- and NMDA-receptor labeling in GABAergic synapses. Electron microscopy of pre-embedding immunogold-immunoperoxidase reactions confirmed that GluN1, GluN2A and GluN2B NMDAR subunits were all expressed in glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses postsynaptically. Finally, quantitative post-embedding immunogold labeling revealed that the density of NMDARs was 3 times higher in glutamatergic than in GABAergic synapses. Since GABAergic synapses were larger, there was little difference in the total number of NMDA receptors in the two types of synapses. In addition, receptor density in synapses was substantially higher than extrasynaptically. These data can provide the neuroanatomical basis of a new interpretation of previous physiological data regarding the GABAAR-NMDAR cooperation during early development. We suggest that during SSA, synaptic GABAAR-mediated depolarization assists NMDAR activation right inside GABAergic synapses and this effective spatial cooperation of receptors and local change of membrane potential will reach developing glutamatergic synapses with a higher probability and efficiency even further away on the dendrites. This additional level of cooperation that operates within the depolarizing GABAergic synapse, may also allow its own modification triggered by Ca2+-influx through the NMDA receptors.
PMCID: PMC3360635  PMID: 22662211
11.  Distribution of Glycine/GABA Neurons in the Ventromedial Medulla with Descending Spinal Projections and Evidence for an Ascending Glycine/GABA Projection 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(4):e35293.
The ventromedial medulla (VM), subdivided in a rostral (RVM) and a caudal (CVM) part, has a powerful influence on the spinal cord. In this study, we have identified the distribution of glycine and GABA containing neurons in the VM with projections to the cervical spinal cord, the lumbar dorsal horn, and the lumbar ventral horn. For this purpose, we have combined retrograde tracing using fluorescent microspheres with fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) for glycine transporter 2 (GlyT2) and GAD67 mRNAs to identify glycinergic and/or GABAergic (Gly/GABA) neurons. Since the results obtained with FISH for GlyT2, GAD67, or GlyT2+GAD67 mRNAs were not significantly different, we concluded that glycine and GABA coexisted in the various projection neurons. After injections in the cervical cord, we found that 29%±1 (SEM) of the retrogradely labeled neurons in the VM were Gly/GABA (RVM: 43%; CVM: 21%). After lumbar dorsal horn injections 31%±3 of the VM neurons were Gly/GABA (RVM: 45%; CVM: 12%), and after lumbar ventral horn injections 25%±2 were Gly/GABA (RVM: 35%; CVM: 17%). In addition, we have identified a novel ascending Gly/GABA pathway originating from neurons in the area around the central canal (CC) throughout the spinal cord and projecting to the RVM, emphasizing the interaction between the ventromedial medulla and the spinal cord. The present study has now firmly established that GABA and glycine are present in many VM neurons that project to the spinal cord. These neurons strongly influence spinal processing, most notably the inhibition of nociceptive transmission.
PMCID: PMC3340372  PMID: 22558137
12.  Disrupted-in-Schizophrenia (DISC1) Functions Presynaptically at Glutamatergic Synapses 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e34053.
The pathophysiology of schizophrenia is believed to involve defects in synaptic transmission, and the function of many schizophrenia-associated genes, including DISC1, have been linked to synaptic function at glutamatergic synapses. Here we develop a rodent model via in utero electroporation to assay the presynaptic function of DISC1 at glutamatergic synapses. We used a combination of mosaic transgene expression, RNAi knockdown and optogenetics to restrict both genetic manipulation and synaptic stimulation of glutamatergic neurons presynaptic to other layer 2/3 neocortical pyramidal neurons that were then targeted for whole-cell patch-clamp recording. We show that expression of the DISC1 c-terminal truncation variant that is associated with Schizophrenia alters the frequency of mEPSCs and the kinetics of evoked glutamate release. In addition, we show that expression level of DISC1 is correlated with the probability of glutamate release such that increased DISC1 expression results in paired-pulse depression and RNAi knockdown of DISC1 produces paired-pulse facilitation. Overall, our results support a direct presynaptic function for the schizophrenia-associated gene, DISC1.
PMCID: PMC3316587  PMID: 22479520
13.  Integration of Subthreshold and Suprathreshold Excitatory Barrages along the Somatodendritic Axis of Pyramidal Neurons 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33831.
Neurons integrate inputs arriving in different cellular compartments to produce action potentials that are transmitted to other neurons. Because of the voltage- and time-dependent conductances in the dendrites and soma, summation of synaptic inputs is complex. To examine summation of membrane potentials and firing rates, we performed whole-cell recordings from layer 5 cortical pyramidal neurons in acute slices of the rat's somatosensory cortex. We delivered subthreshold and suprathreshold stimuli at the soma and several sites on the apical dendrite, and injected inputs that mimic synaptic barrages at individual or distributed sites. We found that summation of subthreshold potentials differed from that of firing rates. Subthreshold summation was linear when barrages were small but became supralinear as barrages increased. When neurons were discharging repetitively the rules were more diverse. At the soma and proximal apical dendrite summation of the evoked firing rates was predominantly sublinear whereas in the distal dendrite summation ranged from supralinear to sublinear. In addition, the integration of inputs delivered at a single location differed from that of distributed inputs only for suprathreshold responses. These results indicate that convergent inputs onto the apical dendrite and soma do not simply summate linearly, as suggested previously, and that distinct presynaptic afferents that target specific sites on the dendritic tree may perform unique sets of computations.
PMCID: PMC3311551  PMID: 22457793
14.  Increased GABAA Receptor ε-Subunit Expression on Ventral Respiratory Column Neurons Protects Breathing during Pregnancy 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30608.
GABAergic signaling is essential for proper respiratory function. Potentiation of this signaling with allosteric modulators such as anesthetics, barbiturates, and neurosteroids can lead to respiratory arrest. Paradoxically, pregnant animals continue to breathe normally despite nearly 100-fold increases in circulating neurosteroids. ε subunit-containing GABAARs are insensitive to positive allosteric modulation, thus we hypothesized that pregnant rats increase ε subunit-containing GABAAR expression on brainstem neurons of the ventral respiratory column (VRC). In vivo, pregnancy rendered respiratory motor output insensitive to otherwise lethal doses of pentobarbital, a barbiturate previously used to categorize the ε subunit. Using electrode array recordings in vitro, we demonstrated that putative respiratory neurons of the preBötzinger Complex (preBötC) were also rendered insensitive to the effects of pentobarbital during pregnancy, but unit activity in the VRC was rapidly inhibited by the GABAAR agonist, muscimol. VRC unit activity from virgin and post-partum females was potently inhibited by both pentobarbital and muscimol. Brainstem ε subunit mRNA and protein levels were increased in pregnant rats, and GABAAR ε subunit expression co-localized with a marker of rhythm generating neurons (neurokinin 1 receptors) in the preBötC. These data support the hypothesis that pregnancy renders respiratory motor output and respiratory neuron activity insensitive to barbiturates, most likely via increased ε subunit-containing GABAAR expression on respiratory rhythm-generating neurons. Increased ε subunit expression may be critical to preserve respiratory function (and life) despite increased neurosteroid levels during pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3269439  PMID: 22303446
15.  Pre and Post Synaptic NMDA Effects Targeting Purkinje Cells in the Mouse Cerebellar Cortex 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30180.
N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors are associated with many forms of synaptic plasticity. Their expression level and subunit composition undergo developmental changes in several brain regions. In the mouse cerebellum, beside a developmental switch between NR2B and NR2A/C subunits in granule cells, functional postsynaptic NMDA receptors are seen in Purkinje cells of neonate and adult but not juvenile rat and mice. A presynaptic effect of NMDA on GABA release by cerebellar interneurons was identified recently. Nevertheless whereas NMDA receptor subunits are detected on parallel fiber terminals, a presynaptic effect of NMDA on spontaneous release of glutamate has not been demonstrated. Using mouse cerebellar cultures and patch-clamp recordings we show that NMDA facilitates glutamate release onto Purkinje cells in young cultures via a presynaptic mechanism, whereas NMDA activates extrasynaptic receptors in Purkinje cells recorded in old cultures. The presynaptic effect of NMDA on glutamate release is also observed in Purkinje cells recorded in acute slices prepared from juvenile but not from adult mice and requires a specific protocol of NMDA application.
PMCID: PMC3261884  PMID: 22276158
16.  Preserved Morphology and Physiology of Excitatory Synapses in Profilin1-Deficient Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30068.
Profilins are important regulators of actin dynamics and have been implicated in activity-dependent morphological changes of dendritic spines and synaptic plasticity. Recently, defective presynaptic excitability and neurotransmitter release of glutamatergic synapses were described for profilin2-deficient mice. Both dendritic spine morphology and synaptic plasticity were fully preserved in these mutants, bringing forward the hypothesis that profilin1 is mainly involved in postsynaptic mechanisms, complementary to the presynaptic role of profilin2. To test the hypothesis and to elucidate the synaptic function of profilin1, we here specifically deleted profilin1 in neurons of the adult forebrain by using conditional knockout mice on a CaMKII-cre-expressing background. Analysis of Golgi-stained hippocampal pyramidal cells and electron micrographs from the CA1 stratum radiatum revealed normal synapse density, spine morphology, and synapse ultrastructure in the absence of profilin1. Moreover, electrophysiological recordings showed that basal synaptic transmission, presynaptic physiology, as well as postsynaptic plasticity were unchanged in profilin1 mutants. Hence, loss of profilin1 had no adverse effects on the morphology and function of excitatory synapses. Our data are in agreement with two different scenarios: i) profilins are not relevant for actin regulation in postsynaptic structures, activity-dependent morphological changes of dendritic spines, and synaptic plasticity or ii) profilin1 and profilin2 have overlapping functions particularly in the postsynaptic compartment. Future analysis of double mutant mice will ultimately unravel whether profilins are relevant for dendritic spine morphology and synaptic plasticity.
PMCID: PMC3256187  PMID: 22253883
17.  Hemodynamic Responses Evoked by Neuronal Stimulation via Channelrhodopsin-2 Can Be Independent of Intracortical Glutamatergic Synaptic Transmission 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29859.
Maintenance of neuronal function depends on the delivery of oxygen and glucose through changes in blood flow that are linked to the level of ongoing neuronal and glial activity, yet the underlying mechanisms remain unclear. Using transgenic mice expressing the light-activated cation channel channelrhodopsin-2 in deep layer pyramidal neurons, we report that changes in intrinsic optical signals and blood flow can be evoked by activation of a subset of channelrhodopsin-2-expressing neurons in the sensorimotor cortex. We have combined imaging and pharmacology to examine the importance of glutamatergic synaptic transmission in this form of neurovascular coupling. Blockade of ionotropic glutamate receptors with the antagonists CNQX and MK801 significantly reduced forepaw-evoked hemodynamic responses, yet resulted in no significant reduction of channelrhodopsin-evoked hemodynamic responses, suggesting that stimulus-dependent coupling of neuronal activity to blood flow can be independent of local excitatory synaptic transmission. Together, these results indicate that channelrhodopsin-2 activation of sensorimotor excitatory neurons produces changes in intrinsic optical signals and blood flow that can occur under conditions where synaptic activation of neurons or other cells through ionotropic glutamate receptors would be blocked.
PMCID: PMC3254633  PMID: 22253807
18.  A2BR Adenosine Receptor Modulates Sweet Taste in Circumvallate Taste Buds 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30032.
In response to taste stimulation, taste buds release ATP, which activates ionotropic ATP receptors (P2X2/P2X3) on taste nerves as well as metabotropic (P2Y) purinergic receptors on taste bud cells. The action of the extracellular ATP is terminated by ectonucleotidases, ultimately generating adenosine, which itself can activate one or more G-protein coupled adenosine receptors: A1, A2A, A2B, and A3. Here we investigated the expression of adenosine receptors in mouse taste buds at both the nucleotide and protein expression levels. Of the adenosine receptors, only A2B receptor (A2BR) is expressed specifically in taste epithelia. Further, A2BR is expressed abundantly only in a subset of taste bud cells of posterior (circumvallate, foliate), but not anterior (fungiform, palate) taste fields in mice. Analysis of double-labeled tissue indicates that A2BR occurs on Type II taste bud cells that also express Gα14, which is present only in sweet-sensitive taste cells of the foliate and circumvallate papillae. Glossopharyngeal nerve recordings from A2BR knockout mice show significantly reduced responses to both sucrose and synthetic sweeteners, but normal responses to tastants representing other qualities. Thus, our study identified a novel regulator of sweet taste, the A2BR, which functions to potentiate sweet responses in posterior lingual taste fields.
PMCID: PMC3254652  PMID: 22253866
19.  Role of the Lateral Paragigantocellular Nucleus in the Network of Paradoxical (REM) Sleep: An Electrophysiological and Anatomical Study in the Rat 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e28724.
The lateral paragigantocellular nucleus (LPGi) is located in the ventrolateral medulla and is known as a sympathoexcitatory area involved in the control of blood pressure. In recent experiments, we showed that the LPGi contains a large number of neurons activated during PS hypersomnia following a selective deprivation. Among these neurons, more than two-thirds are GABAergic and more than one fourth send efferent fibers to the wake-active locus coeruleus nucleus. To get more insight into the role of the LPGi in PS regulation, we combined an electrophysiological and anatomical approach in the rat, using extracellular recordings in the head-restrained model and injections of tracers followed by the immunohistochemical detection of Fos in control, PS-deprived and PS-recovery animals. With the head-restrained preparation, we showed that the LPGi contains neurons specifically active during PS (PS-On neurons), neurons inactive during PS (PS-Off neurons) and neurons indifferent to the sleep-waking cycle. After injection of CTb in the facial nucleus, the neurons of which are hyperpolarized during PS, the largest population of Fos/CTb neurons visualized in the medulla in the PS-recovery condition was observed in the LPGi. After injection of CTb in the LPGi itself and PS-recovery, the nucleus containing the highest number of Fos/CTb neurons, moreover bilaterally, was the sublaterodorsal nucleus (SLD). The SLD is known as the pontine executive PS area and triggers PS through glutamatergic neurons. We propose that, during PS, the LPGi is strongly excited by the SLD and hyperpolarizes the motoneurons of the facial nucleus in addition to local and locus coeruleus PS-Off neurons, and by this means contributes to PS genesis.
PMCID: PMC3250413  PMID: 22235249
20.  Selective Coupling between Theta Phase and Neocortical Fast Gamma Oscillations during REM-Sleep in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28489.
The mammalian brain expresses a wide range of state-dependent network oscillations which vary in frequency and spatial extension. Such rhythms can entrain multiple neurons into coherent patterns of activity, consistent with a role in behaviour, cognition and memory formation. Recent evidence suggests that locally generated fast network oscillations can be systematically aligned to long-range slow oscillations. It is likely that such cross-frequency coupling supports specific tasks including behavioural choice and working memory.
Principal Findings
We analyzed temporal coupling between high-frequency oscillations and EEG theta activity (4–12 Hz) in recordings from mouse parietal neocortex. Theta was exclusively present during active wakefulness and REM-sleep. Fast oscillations occurred in two separate frequency bands: gamma (40–100 Hz) and fast gamma (120–160 Hz). Theta, gamma and fast gamma were more prominent during active wakefulness as compared to REM-sleep. Coupling between theta and the two types of fast oscillations, however, was more pronounced during REM-sleep. This state-dependent cross-frequency coupling was particularly strong for theta-fast gamma interaction which increased 9-fold during REM as compared to active wakefulness. Theta-gamma coupling increased only by 1.5-fold.
State-dependent cross-frequency-coupling provides a new functional characteristic of REM-sleep and establishes a unique property of neocortical fast gamma oscillations. Interactions between defined patterns of slow and fast network oscillations may serve selective functions in sleep-dependent information processing.
PMCID: PMC3230633  PMID: 22163023
21.  Nasal Chemosensory-Stimulation Evoked Activity Patterns in the Rat Trigeminal Ganglion Visualized by In Vivo Voltage-Sensitive Dye Imaging 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e26158.
Mammalian nasal chemosensation is predominantly mediated by two independent neuronal pathways, the olfactory and the trigeminal system. Within the early olfactory system, spatiotemporal responses of the olfactory bulb to various odorants have been mapped in great detail. In contrast, far less is known about the representation of volatile chemical stimuli at an early stage in the trigeminal system, the trigeminal ganglion (TG), which contains neurons directly projecting to the nasal cavity. We have established an in vivo preparation that allows high-resolution imaging of neuronal population activity from a large region of the rat TG using voltage-sensitive dyes (VSDs). Application of different chemical stimuli to the nasal cavity elicited distinct, stimulus-category specific, spatiotemporal activation patterns that comprised activated as well as suppressed areas. Thus, our results provide the first direct insights into the spatial representation of nasal chemosensory information within the trigeminal ganglion imaged at high temporal resolution.
PMCID: PMC3198387  PMID: 22039441
22.  Relative Number and Distribution of Murine Hypothalamic Proopiomelanocortin Neurons Innervating Distinct Target Sites 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(10):e25864.
Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons send projections widely throughout the brain consistent with their role in regulating numerous homeostatic processes and mediating analgesia and reward. Recent data suggest that POMC neurons located in the rostral and caudal extents of the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus may mediate selective actions, however it is not clear if POMC neurons in these regions of the arcuate nucleus innervate specific target sites. In the present study, fluorescent microspheres and cholera toxin B were used to retrogradely label POMC neurons in POMC-DsRed transgenic mice. The number and location of POMC cells projecting to the supraoptic nucleus, periaqueductal gray, ventral tegmental area, paraventricular nucleus, lateral hypothalamic nucleus, amygdala and the dosal vagal complex was determined. Tracer injected unilaterally labeled POMC neurons in both sides of the arcuate nucleus. While the total number of retrogradely labeled cells in the arcuate nucleus varied by injection site, less than 10% of POMC neurons were labeled with tracer injected into any target area. Limited target sites appear to be preferentially innervated by POMC neurons that reside in the rostral or caudal extremes of the arcuate nucleus, whereas the majority of target sites are innervated by diffusely distributed POMC neurons. The modest number of cells projecting to each target site indicates that relatively few POMC neurons may mediate potent and specific physiologic responses and therefore disturbed signaling in a very few POMC neurons may have significant consequences.
PMCID: PMC3186811  PMID: 21991375
23.  Lateral Diffusion on Tubular Membranes: Quantification of Measurements Bias 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e25731.
Single Particle Tracking (SPT) is a powerful technique for the analysis of the lateral diffusion of the lipid and protein components of biological membranes. In neurons, SPT allows the study of the real-time dynamics of receptors for neurotransmitters that diffuse continuously in and out synapses. In the simplest case where the membrane is flat and is parallel to the focal plane of the microscope the analysis of diffusion from SPT data is relatively straightforward. However, in most biological samples the membranes are curved, which complicates analysis and may lead to erroneous conclusions as for the mode of lateral diffusion. Here we considered the case of lateral diffusion in tubular membranes, such as axons, dendrites or the neck of dendritic spines. Monte Carlo simulations allowed us to evaluate the error in diffusion coefficient (D) calculation if the curvature is not taken into account. The underestimation is determined by the diameter of the tubular surface, the frequency of image acquisition and the degree of mobility itself. We found that projected trajectories give estimates that are 25 to 50% lower than the real D in case of 2D-SPT over the tubular surface. The use of 3D-SPT improved the measurements if the frequency of image acquisition was fast enough in relation to the mobility of the molecules and the diameter of the tube. Nevertheless, the calculation of D from the components of displacements in the axis of the tubular structure gave accurate estimate of D, free of geometrical artefacts. We show the application of this approach to analyze the diffusion of a lipid on model tubular membranes and of a membrane-bound GFP on neurites from cultured rat hippocampal neurons.
PMCID: PMC3183067  PMID: 21980531
24.  Sensory Experience Differentially Modulates the mRNA Expression of the Polysialyltransferases ST8SiaII and ST8SiaIV in Postnatal Mouse Visual Cortex 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24874.
Polysialic acid (PSA) is a unique carbohydrate composed of a linear homopolymer of α-2,8 linked sialic acid, and is mainly attached to the fifth immunoglobulin-like domain of the neural cell adhesion molecule (NCAM) in vertebrate neural system. In the brain, PSA is exclusively synthesized by the two polysialyltransferases ST8SiaII (also known as STX) and ST8SiaIV (also known as PST). By modulating adhesive property of NCAM, PSA plays a critical role in several neural development processes such as cell migration, neurite outgrowth, axon pathfinding, synaptogenesis and activity-dependent plasticity. The expression of PSA is temporally and spatially regulated during neural development and a tight regulation of PSA expression is essential to its biological function. In mouse visual cortex, PSA is downregulated following eye opening and its decrease allows the maturation of GABAergic synapses and the opening of the critical period for ocular dominance plasticity. Relatively little is known about how PSA levels are regulated by sensory experience and neuronal activity. Here, we demonstrate that while both ST8SiaII and ST8SiaIV mRNA levels decrease around the time of eye opening in mouse visual cortex, only ST8SiaII mRNA level reduction is regulated by sensory experience. Using an organotypic culture system from mouse visual cortex, we further show that ST8SiaII gene expression is regulated by spiking activity and NMDA-mediated excitation. Further, we show that both ST8SiaII and ST8SiaIV mRNA levels are positively regulated by PKC-mediated signaling. Therefore, sensory experience-dependent ST8SiaII gene expression regulates PSA levels in postnatal visual cortex, thus acting as molecular link between visual activity and PSA expression.
PMCID: PMC3177851  PMID: 21957465
25.  TRPV1 Marks Synaptic Segregation of Multiple Convergent Afferents at the Rat Medial Solitary Tract Nucleus 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e25015.
TRPV1 receptors are expressed on most but not all central terminals of cranial visceral afferents in the caudal solitary tract nucleus (NTS). TRPV1 is associated with unmyelinated C-fiber afferents. Both TRPV1+ and TRPV1- afferents enter NTS but their precise organization remains poorly understood. In horizontal brainstem slices, we activated solitary tract (ST) afferents and recorded ST-evoked glutamatergic excitatory synaptic currents (ST-EPSCs) under whole cell voltage clamp conditions from neurons of the medial subnucleus. Electrical shocks to the ST produced fixed latency EPSCs (jitter<200 µs) that identified direct ST afferent innervation. Graded increases in shock intensity often recruited more than one ST afferent and ST-EPSCs had consistent threshold intensity, latency to onset, and unique EPSC waveforms that characterized each unitary ST afferent contact. The TRPV1 agonist capsaicin (100 nM) blocked the evoked TRPV1+ ST-EPSCs and defined them as either TRPV1+ or TRPV1- inputs. No partial responses to capsaicin were observed so that in NTS neurons that received one or multiple (2–5) direct ST afferent inputs – all were either blocked by capsaicin or were unaltered. Since TRPV1 mediates asynchronous release following TRPV1+ ST-evoked EPSCs, we likewise found that recruiting more than one ST afferent further augmented the asynchronous response and was eliminated by capsaicin. Thus, TRPV1+ and TRPV1- afferents are completely segregated to separate NTS neurons. As a result, the TRPV1 receptor augments glutamate release only within unmyelinated afferent pathways in caudal medial NTS and our work indicates a complete separation of C-type from A-type afferent information at these first central neurons.
PMCID: PMC3176783  PMID: 21949835

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