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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ablation of a cochlea causes total sensory deafferentation of the cochlear nucleus in the brainstem, providing a model to investigate nervous degeneration and formation of new synaptic contacts in the adult brain. In a quantitative electron microscopical study on the plasticity of the central auditory system of the Wistar rat, we first determined what fraction of the total number of synaptic contact zones (SCZs) in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN) is attributable to primary sensory innervation and how many synapses remain after total unilateral cochlear ablation. Second, we attempted to identify the potential for a deafferentation-dependent synaptogenesis. SCZs were ultrastructurally identified before and after deafferentation in tissue treated for ethanolic phosphotungstic acid (EPTA) staining. This was combined with pre-embedding immunocytochemistry for gephyrin identifying inhibitory SCZs, the growth-associated protein GAP-43, glutamate, and choline acetyltransferase. A stereological analysis of EPTA stained sections revealed 1.11±0.09 (S.E.M.)×109 SCZs per mm3 of AVCN tissue. Within 7 days of deafferentation, this number was down by 46%. Excitatory and inhibitory synapses were differentially affected on the side of deafferentation. Excitatory synapses were quickly reduced and then began to increase in number again, necessarily being complemented from sources other than cochlear neurons, while inhibitory synapses were reduced more slowly and continuously. The result was a transient rise of the relative fraction of inhibitory synapses with a decline below original levels thereafter. Synaptogenesis was inferred by the emergence of morphologically immature SCZs that were consistently associated with GAP-43 immunoreactivity. SCZs of this type were estimated to make up a fraction of close to 30% of the total synaptic population present by ten weeks after sensory deafferentation. In conclusion, there appears to be a substantial potential for network reorganization and synaptogenesis in the auditory brainstem after loss of hearing, even in the adult brain.
GABA(γ-amino-butylic acid)-mediated inhibition in the dendrites of CA1 pyramidal neurons was characterized by two-photon uncaging of a caged-GABA compound, BCMACM-GABA, and one-photon uncaging of RuBi-GABA in rat hippocampal slice preparations. Although we found that GABAA-mediated currents were diffusely distributed along the dendrites, currents elicited at the branch points of the apical dendritic trunk were approximately two times larger than those elsewhere in the dendrite. We examined the inhibitory action of the GABA-induced currents on Ca2+ transients evoked with a single back-propagating action potential (bAP) in oblique dendrites. We found that GABA uncaging selectively inhibited the Ca2+ transients in the region adjacent (<20 µm) to the uncaging site, and that GABA uncaging was effective only within a short period after bAP (<20 ms). The strength of inhibition was linearly related to the amplitudes of the GABA currents, suggesting that the currents inhibited a sustained, subthreshold after-depolarization without preventing propagation of bAP. GABA uncaging at the dendritic branch points inhibited Ca2+ transients farther into dendritic branches (>20 µm). Our data indicate that GABA inhibition results in spatially confined inhibition of Ca2+ transients shortly after bAP, and suggest that this effect is particularly potent at the dendritic branch points where GABA receptors cluster.
Local field-potentials (LFPs) are generated by neuronal ensembles and contain information about the activity of single neurons. Here, the LFPs of the cerebellar granular layer and their changes during long-term synaptic plasticity (LTP and LTD) were recorded in response to punctate facial stimulation in the rat in vivo. The LFP comprised a trigeminal (T) and a cortical (C) wave. T and C, which derived from independent granule cell clusters, co-varied during LTP and LTD. To extract information about the underlying cellular activities, the LFP was reconstructed using a repetitive convolution (ReConv) of the extracellular potential generated by a detailed multicompartmental model of the granule cell. The mossy fiber input patterns were determined using a Blind Source Separation (BSS) algorithm. The major component of the LFP was generated by the granule cell spike Na+ current, which caused a powerful sink in the axon initial segment with the source located in the soma and dendrites. Reproducing the LFP changes observed during LTP and LTD required modifications in both release probability and intrinsic excitability at the mossy fiber-granule cells relay. Synaptic plasticity and Golgi cell feed-forward inhibition proved critical for controlling the percentage of active granule cells, which was 11% in standard conditions but ranged from 3% during LTD to 21% during LTP and raised over 50% when inhibition was reduced. The emerging picture is that of independent (but neighboring) trigeminal and cortical channels, in which synaptic plasticity and feed-forward inhibition effectively regulate the number of discharging granule cells and emitted spikes generating “dense” activity clusters in the cerebellar granular layer.
ΔFosB plays a critical role in drug-induced long-term changes in the brain. In the current study, we evaluated locomotor activity in male and female rats treated with saline or cocaine for 2 weeks and quantitatively mapped ΔFosB expression in the dorsal striatum and nucleus accumbens of each animal by using an anti-FosB antibody that recognizes ΔFosB isoforms preferentially. Behavioral analysis showed that while there was little difference between males and females that sensitized to cocaine, nonsensitizing rats showed a large sex difference. Nonsensitizing males showed low behavioral activation in response to cocaine on the first day of treatment, and their activity remained low. In contrast, nonsensitizing females showed high activation on the first day of treatment and their activity remained high. Western blot and immunohistochemical analyses indicated that basal levels of ΔFosB were higher in the nucleus accumbens than the dorsal striatum, but that the effect of cocaine on ΔFosB was greater in the dorsal striatum. Immunostaining showed that the effect of cocaine in both the dorsal striatum and nucleus accumbens was primarily to increase the intensity of ΔFosB immunoreactivity in individual neurons, rather than to increase the number of cells that express ΔFosB. Detailed mapping of ΔFosB-labeled nuclei showed that basal ΔFosB levels were highest in the medial portion of the dorsal striatum and dorsomedial accumbens, particularly adjacent to the lateral ventricle, whereas the cocaine-induced increase in ΔFosB was most pronounced in the lateral dorsal striatum, where basal ΔFosB expression was lowest. Sex differences in ΔFosB expression were small and independent of cocaine treatment. We discuss implications of the sex difference in locomotor activation and regionally-specific ΔFosB induction by cocaine.
Synchronized activity in ensembles of neurons recruited by excitatory afferents is thought to contribute to the coding information in the brain. However, the mechanisms by which neuronal ensembles are generated and modified are not known. Here we show that in rat hippocampal slices associative synaptic plasticity enables ensembles of neurons to change by incorporating neurons belonging to different ensembles. Associative synaptic plasticity redistributes the composition of different ensembles recruited by distinct inputs such as to specifically increase the similarity between the ensembles. These results show that in the hippocampus, the ensemble of neurons recruited by a given afferent projection is fluid and can be rapidly and persistently modified to specifically include neurons from different ensembles. This linking of ensembles may contribute to the formation of associative memories.
Principal neurons of the lateral superior olive (LSO) compute the interaural intensity differences necessary for localizing high-frequency sounds. To perform this computation, the LSO requires precisely tuned, converging excitatory and inhibitory inputs that are driven by the two ears and that are matched for stimulus frequency. In rodents, the inhibitory inputs, which arise from the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB), undergo extensive functional refinement during the first postnatal week. Similar functional refinement of the ascending excitatory pathway, which arises in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN), has been assumed but has not been well studied. Using whole-cell voltage clamp in acute brainstem slices of neonatal rats, we examined developmental changes in input strength and pre- and post-synaptic properties of the VCN-LSO pathway. A key question was whether functional refinement in one of the two major input pathways might precede and then guide refinement in the opposite pathway. We find that elimination and strengthening of VCN inputs to the LSO occurs over a similar period to that seen for the ascending inhibitory (MNTB-LSO) pathway. During this period, the fractional contribution provided by NMDA receptors (NMDARs) declines while the contribution from AMPA receptors (AMPARs) increases. In the NMDAR-mediated response, GluN2B-containing NMDARs predominate in the first postnatal week and decline sharply thereafter. Finally, the progressive decrease in paired-pulse depression between birth and hearing onset allows these synapses to follow progressively higher frequencies. Our data are consistent with a model in which the excitatory and inhibitory projections to LSO are functionally refined in parallel during the first postnatal week, and they further suggest that GluN2B-containing NMDARs may mediate early refinement in the VCN-LSO pathway.