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1.  Suppression of InsP3 Receptor-Mediated Ca2+ Signaling Alleviates Mutant Presenilin-Linked Familial Alzheimer's Disease Pathogenesis 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(20):6910-6923.
Exaggerated intracellular Ca2+ signaling is a robust proximal phenotype observed in cells expressing familial Alzheimer's disease (FAD)-causing mutant presenilins (PSs). The mechanisms that underlie this phenotype are controversial and their in vivo relevance for AD pathogenesis is unknown. Here, we used a genetic approach to identify the mechanisms involved and to evaluate their role in the etiology of AD in two FAD mouse models. Genetic reduction of the type 1 inositol trisphosphate receptor (InsP3R1) by 50% normalized exaggerated Ca2+ signaling observed in cortical and hippocampal neurons in both animal models. In PS1M146V knock-in mice, reduced InsP3R1 expression restored normal ryanodine receptor and cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB)-dependent gene expression and rescued aberrant hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP). In 3xTg mice, reduced InsP3R1 expression profoundly attenuated amyloid β accumulation and tau hyperphosphorylation and rescued hippocampal LTP and memory deficits. These results indicate that exaggerated Ca2+ signaling, which is associated with FAD PS, is mediated by InsP3R and contributes to disease pathogenesis in vivo. Targeting the InsP3 signaling pathway could be considered a potential therapeutic strategy for patients harboring mutations in PS linked to AD.
PMCID: PMC4019804  PMID: 24828645
Mouse model; Alzheimer's disease; amyloid; calcium; ion channel; memory
2.  Neuronal Activity and Glutamate Uptake Decrease Mitochondrial Mobility in Astrocytes and Position Mitochondria Near Glutamate Transporters 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2014;34(5):1613-1624.
Within neurons, mitochondria are nonuniformly distributed and are retained at sites of high activity and metabolic demand. Glutamate transport and the concomitant activation of the Na+/K+-ATPase represent a substantial energetic demand on astrocytes. We hypothesized that mitochondrial mobility within astrocytic processes might be regulated by neuronal activity and glutamate transport. We imaged organotypic hippocampal slice cultures of rat, in which astrocytes maintain their highly branched morphologies and express glutamate transporters. Using time-lapse confocal microscopy, the mobility of mitochondria within individual astrocytic processes and neuronal dendrites was tracked. Within neurons, a greater percentage of mitochondria were mobile than in astrocytes. Furthermore, they moved faster and farther than in astrocytes. Inhibiting neuronal activity with tetrodotoxin (TTX) increased the percentage of mobile mitochondria in astrocytes. Mitochondrial movement in astrocytes was inhibited by vinblastine and cytochalasin D, demonstrating that this mobility depends on both the microtubule and actin cytoskeletons. Inhibition of glutamate transport tripled the percentage of mobile mitochondria in astrocytes. Conversely, application of the transporter substrate d-aspartate reversed the TTX-induced increase in the percentage of mobile mitochondria. Inhibition of reversed Na+/Ca2+ exchange also increased the percentage of mitochondria that were mobile. Last, we demonstrated that neuronal activity increases the probability that mitochondria appose GLT-1 particles within astrocyte processes, without changing the proximity of GLT-1 particles to VGLUT1. These results imply that neuronal activity and the resulting clearance of glutamate by astrocytes regulate the movement of astrocytic mitochondria and suggest a mechanism by which glutamate transporters might retain mitochondria at sites of glutamate uptake.
PMCID: PMC3905137  PMID: 24478345
astrocyte; GLT-1; glutamate; mitochondria; mobility; transporter
3.  Mechanisms of epileptogenesis: a convergence on neural circuit dysfunction 
Nature reviews. Neuroscience  2013;14(5):337-349.
Epilepsy is a prevalent neurological disorder associated with significant morbidity and mortality, but the only available drug therapies target its symptoms rather than the underlying cause. The process that links brain injury or other predisposing factors to the subsequent emergence of epilepsy is termed epileptogenesis. Substantial research has focused on elucidating the mechanisms of epileptogenesis so as to identify more specific targets for intervention, with the hope of preventing epilepsy before seizures emerge. Recent work has yielded important conceptual advances in this field. We suggest that such insights into the mechanisms of epileptogenesis converge at the level of cortical circuit dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC3982383  PMID: 23595016
4.  Algal Proteins Illuminate Epilepsy 
Epilepsy Currents  2013;13(5):221-223.
PMCID: PMC3854728  PMID: 24348112
5.  Protracted Postnatal Development of Sparse, Specific Dentate Granule Cell Activation in the Mouse Hippocampus 
The dentate gyrus (DG) is a critical entry point regulating function of the hippocampus. Integral to this role are the sparse, selective activation characteristics of the principal cells of the DG, dentate granule cells (DGCs). This sparse activation is important both in cognitive processing, and in regulation of pathological activity in disease states. Using a novel, combined dynamic imaging approach capable of resolving sequentially both synaptic potentials and action potential firing in large populations of DGCs, we characterized the postnatal development of firing properties of DG neurons in response to afferent activation in mouse hippocampal-entorhinal cortical slices. During postnatal development, there was a protracted, progressive sparsification of responses, accompanied by increased temporal precision of activation. Both of these phenomena were primarily mediated by changes in local circuit inhibition, and not by alterations in afferent innervation of DGCs, since GABAA antagonists normalized developmental differences. There was significant theta and gamma frequency-dependent synaptic recruitment of DGC activation in adult, but not developing, animals. Finally, we found that the decision to fire or not fire by individual DGCs was robust and repeatable at all stages of development. The protracted postnatal development of sparse, selective firing properties, increased temporal precision and frequency dependence of activation, and the fidelity with which the decision to fire is made are all fundamental circuit determinants of DGC excitation, critical in both normal and pathological function of the DG.
PMCID: PMC3711669  PMID: 23407953
Calcium Imaging; Two-Photon Microscopy; Voltage Sensitive Dye; Confocal Microscopy; Hippocampus; Dentate; Granule Cells
6.  Astrocytic Regulation of Glutamate Homeostasis in Epilepsy 
Glia  2012;60(8):1215-1226.
Astrocytes play a critical role in regulation of extracellular neurotransmitter levels in the central nervous system. This function is particularly prominent for the excitatory amino acid glutamate, with estimates that 80–90% of extracellular glutamate uptake in brain is through astrocytic glutamate transporters. This uptake has significance both in regulation of the potential toxic accumulation of extracellular glutamate, and in normal resupply of inhibitory and excitatory synapses with neurotransmitter. This resupply of neurotransmitter is accomplished by astroglial uptake of glutamate, transformation of glutamate to glutamine by the astrocytic enzyme glutamine synthetase, and shuttling of glutamine back to excitatory and inhibitory neurons via specialized transporters. Once in neurons, glutamine is enzymatically converted back to glutamate, which is utilized for synaptic transmission, either directly, or following decarboxylation to GABA. Many neurologic and psychiatric conditions, particularly epilepsy, are accompanied by the development of reactive gliosis, a pathology characterized by anatomical and biochemical plasticity in astrocytes, accompanied by proliferation of these cells. Among the biochemical changes evident in reactive astrocytes is a downregulation of several of the important regulators of the glutamine-glutamate cycle, including glutamine synthetase, and possibly also glutamate transporters. This downregulation may have significance in contributing both to the aberrant excitability and to the altered neuropathology characterizing epilepsy. In the present review, we provide an overview of the normal function of astrocytes in regulating extracellular glutamate homeostasis, neurotransmitter supply, and excitotoxicity. We further discuss the potential role reactive gliosis may play in the pathophysiology of epilepsy.
PMCID: PMC3375386  PMID: 22592998
7.  Deterministic and Stochastic Neuronal Contributions to Distinct Synchronous CA3 Network Bursts 
The Journal of Neuroscience  2012;32(14):4743-4754.
Computational studies have suggested that stochastic, deterministic, and mixed processes all could be possible determinants of spontaneous, synchronous network bursts. In the present study, utilizing multicellular calcium imaging coupled with fast confocal microscopy, we describe neuronal behavior underlying spontaneous network bursts in developing rat and mouse hippocampal area CA3 networks. Two primary burst types were studied: giant depolarizing potentials (GDPs) and spontaneous interictal bursts recorded in bicuculline, a GABAA receptor antagonist. Analysis of the simultaneous behavior of multiple CA3 neurons during synchronous GDPs revealed a repeatable activation order from burst to burst. This was validated using several statistical methods, including high Kendall’s W values for firing order during GDPs, high Pearson’s correlations of cellular activation times between burst pairs, and latent class analysis, which revealed a population of 5-6% of CA3 neurons reliably firing very early during GDPs. In contrast, neuronal firing order during interictal bursts appeared homogenous, with no particular cells repeatedly leading or lagging during these synchronous events. We conclude that GDPs activate via a deterministic mechanism, with distinct, repeatable roles for subsets of neurons during burst generation, while interictal bursts appear to be stochastic events with cells assuming interchangeable roles in the generation of these events.
PMCID: PMC3328771  PMID: 22492030
Calcium Imaging; Fast Confocal Microscopy; Network Bursts; Hippocampus; CA3 Neurons; Latent Class Model Analysis
8.  Efficient Conversion of Astrocytes to Functional Midbrain Dopaminergic Neurons Using a Single Polycistronic Vector 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28719.
Direct cellular reprogramming is a powerful new tool for regenerative medicine. In efforts to understand and treat Parkinson's Disease (PD), which is marked by the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in the midbrain, direct reprogramming provides a valuable new source of these cells. Astrocytes, the most plentiful cells in the central nervous system, are an ideal starting population for the direct generation of dopaminergic neurons. In addition to their potential utility in cell replacement therapies for PD or in modeling the disease in vitro, astrocyte-derived dopaminergic neurons offer the prospect of direct in vivo reprogramming within the brain. As a first step toward this goal, we report the reprogramming of astrocytes to dopaminergic neurons using three transcription factors – ASCL1, LMX1B, and NURR1 – delivered in a single polycistronic lentiviral vector. The process is efficient, with 18.2±1.5% of cells expressing markers of dopaminergic neurons after two weeks. The neurons exhibit expression profiles and electrophysiological characteristics consistent with midbrain dopaminergic neurons, notably including spontaneous pacemaking activity, stimulated release of dopamine, and calcium oscillations. The present study is the first demonstration that a single vector can mediate reprogramming to dopaminergic neurons, and indicates that astrocytes are an ideal starting population for the direct generation of dopaminergic neurons.
PMCID: PMC3235158  PMID: 22174877
9.  Selective induction of astrocytic gliosis generates deficits in neuronal inhibition 
Nature neuroscience  2010;13(5):584-591.
Reactive astrocytosis develops in many neurologic diseases including epilepsy. Astrocytotic contributions to pathophysiology are poorly understood. Studies examining this are confounded by comorbidities accompanying reactive astrocytosis. We found that high-titer AAV-eGFP astrocyte transduction induced reactive astrocytosis without altering the intrinsic properties or anatomy of neighboring neurons. We used selective astrocytosis induction to examine consequences on synaptic transmission in mouse CA1 pyramidal neurons. Neurons near eGFP-labeled reactive astrocytes exhibited reduction in inhibitory, but not excitatory synaptic currents. This IPSC erosion resulted from failure of the astrocytic glutamate-glutamine cycle. Reactive astrocytes downregulated expression of glutamine synthetase. Blockade of this enzyme normally induces rapid synaptic GABA depletion. In astrocytotic regions, residual inhibition lost sensitivity to glutamine synthetase blockade, while exogenous glutamine administration enhanced IPSCs. Astrocytosis-mediated deficits in inhibition triggered glutamine-reversible hyperexcitability in hippocampal circuits. Reactive astrocytosis may thus generate local synaptic perturbations, leading to broader functional deficits associated with neurologic disease.
PMCID: PMC3225960  PMID: 20418874
adeno-associated virus; reactive astrocytes; glia; synaptic transmission; inhibitory; glutamate-glutamine cycle; hippocampus; patch-clamp
10.  Deficits in Phosphorylation of GABAA Receptors by Intimately Associated Protein Kinase C Activity Underlie Compromised Synaptic Inhibition during Status Epilepticus 
Status epilepticus (SE) is a progressive and often lethal human disorder characterized by continuous or rapidly repeating seizures. Of major significance in the pathology of SE are deficits in the functional expression of GABAA receptors (GABAARs), the major sites of fast synaptic inhibition in the brain. We demonstrate that SE selectively decreases the phosphorylation of GABAARs on serine residues 408/9 (S408/9) in the β3 subunit by intimately associated protein kinase C isoforms. Dephosphorylation of S408/9 unmasks a basic patch-binding motif for the clathrin adaptor AP2, enhancing the endocytosis of selected GABAAR subtypes from the plasma membrane during SE. In agreement with this, enhancing S408/9 phosphorylation or selectively blocking the binding of the β3 subunit to AP2 increased GABAAR cell surface expression levels and restored the efficacy of synaptic inhibition in SE. Thus, enhancing phosphorylation of GABAARs or selectively blocking their interaction with AP2 may provide novel therapeutic strategies to ameliorate SE.
PMCID: PMC2917223  PMID: 18184780
synaptic inhibition; protein kinase C; endocytosis; GABAA receptor; phosphorylation; status epilepticus
11.  Enhanced Astrocytic Ca2+ Signals Contribute to Neuronal Excitotoxicity after Status Epilepticus 
Status epilepticus (SE), an unremitting seizure, is known to cause a variety of traumatic responses including delayed neuronal death and later cognitive decline. Although excitotoxicity has been implicated in this delayed process, the cellular mechanisms are unclear. Because our previous brain slice studies have shown that chemically induced epileptiform activity can lead to elevated astrocytic Ca2+ signaling and because these signals are able to induce the release of the excitotoxic transmitter glutamate from these glia, we asked whether astrocytes are activated during status epilepticus and whether they contribute to delayed neuronal death in vivo. Using two-photon microscopy in vivo, we show that status epilepticus enhances astrocytic Ca2+ signals for 3 d and that the period of elevated glial Ca2+ signaling is correlated with the period of delayed neuronal death. To ask whether astrocytes contribute to delayed neuronal death, we first administered antagonists which inhibit gliotransmission: MPEP [2-methyl-6-(phenylethynyl)pyridine], a metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 antagonist that blocks astrocytic Ca2+ signals in vivo, and ifenprodil, an NMDA receptor antagonist that reduces the actions of glial-derived glutamate. Administration of these antagonists after SE provided significant neuronal protection raising the potential for a glial contribution to neuronal death. To test this glial hypothesis directly, we loaded Ca2+ chelators selectively into astrocytes after status epilepticus. We demonstrate that the selective attenuation of glial Ca2+ signals leads to neuronal protection. These observations support neurotoxic roles for astrocytic gliotransmission in pathological conditions and identify this process as a novel therapeutic target.
PMCID: PMC2917229  PMID: 17913901
astrocyte; NMDA; metabotropic glutamate receptor; epilepsy; calcium; astrocytic glutamate release
12.  Experimental Status Epilepticus Alters γ-Aminobutyric Acid Type A Receptor Function in CA1 Pyramidal Neurons 
Annals of neurology  1995;38(6):893-900.
There is a reduction of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-mediated inhibition in the CA1 pyramidal region of the hippocampus during status epilepticus (SE). The cellular basis of this loss of GABA-mediated inhibition is not known. This study tested the possibility that GABA type A (GABAA) receptor function in CA1 pyramidal neurons was reduced or blocked during SE, at least in part by postsynaptic cellular mechanisms. GABAA, receptor currents (IGABA) were studied by whole-cell patch-clamp techniques in CA1 pyramidal neurons acutely dissociated from rats undergoing lithium/pilocarpine-induced limbic status epilepticus (SE neurons) and from naive rats (naive neurons). SE neurons had more depolarized resting membrane potential (−17.3 mV) compared with naive neurons (−56 mV). IGABA was absent in 47% of SE neurons and reduced in 55% of the remainder, compared with naive neurons. The reduction in IGABA in SE neurons resulted from a combination of factors, including reduced potency and reduced efficacy of GABA in activating chloride channels, and diminished driving force for the GABA-induced chloride currents once activated. These postsynaptic cellular mechanisms resulted in a net reduction or loss in GABA-mediated inhibition and may explain previous in vivo findings reporting a loss of inhibition in hippocampus during limbic SE.
PMCID: PMC2908242  PMID: 8526461
13.  Induction of Prolonged Electrographic Seizures In Vitro Has a Defined Threshold and Is All or None: Implications for Diagnosis of Status Epilepticus 
Epilepsia  2003;44(8):1034-1041.
To study whether induction of prolonged (>30-min duration) in vitro electrographic seizure discharges resembling status epilepticus (SE) is graded or all-or-none, and to determine the critical factors mediating SE induction.
Prolonged electrographic seizure discharges were induced in combined hippocampal–entorhinal cortical (HEC) brain slices by electrical stimulation of the Schaeffer collaterals. Discharges were recorded by using field-potential electrodes in the dentate gyrus, CA3, CA1, and entorhinal cortex. Slices were prepared from rats that were (a) 21- to 30-day-old naive, (b) 60- to 120-day old naive, (c) epileptic, and (d) status post a prior traumatic brain injury.
Induction of SE discharges was dependent on the duration, but not amplitude of the preceding stimulus train–induced afterdischarge in HEC slices from 21- to 30-day-old control, brain-injured, and epileptic animals, but not from 60- to 120-day-old animals. In slices from 21- to 30-day-old control animals, once afterdischarges exceeded 4 min in duration, SE was induced in 50% of slices, and after ≥6 min 37 s seizure activity; SE was induced in 95% of slices. A defined SE threshold also was evident in brain-damaged rats, including rats in which an epileptic condition was induced by pilocarpine injection 4–16 weeks before recording, and rats subjected to a fluid percussive head trauma 1–8 weeks before recording. However, in these brain-damaged animals, mean SE threshold was considerably lower (24 and 44 s, respectively). HEC slices from 60- to 120-day-old controls for the brain-injured and epileptic animals did not develop SE even after 20 stimulations, demonstrating the pronounced effect of brain injury and epilepsy on the development of SE in the HEC slice preparation compared with that in age-matched controls.
In vitro, SE discharges have a defined temporal threshold for initiation. Once a seizure exceeds 6–7 min in duration in control animals, and 30–55 s in brain-damaged animals, the probability of SE induction is greatly increased. This demonstrates that brain injury lowers the afterdischarge duration required to produce SE and suggests that brains injured from trauma or SE are more susceptible to develop status epilepticus.
PMCID: PMC2867609  PMID: 12887434
Epilepsy; Hippocampus; Status epilepticus; Threshold; Traumatic brain injury
14.  Dentate granule cell GABAA receptors in epileptic hippocampus: enhanced synaptic efficacy and altered pharmacology 
The European journal of neuroscience  2003;17(8):1607-1616.
The dentate gyrus (DG) normally functions as a filter, preventing propagation of synchronized activity into the seizure-prone hippocampus. This filter or ‘gatekeeper’ attribute of the DG is compromised in various pathological states, including temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). This study examines the role that altered inhibition may play in the deterioration of this crucial DG function. Using the pilocarpine animal model of TLE, we demonstrate that inhibitory synaptic function is altered in principal cells of the DG. Spontaneous miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) recorded in dentate granule cells (DGCs) from epileptic animals were larger, more sensitive to blockade by zinc and less sensitive to augmentation by the benzodiazepine type site 1 modulator zolpidem. Furthermore, mIPSCs examined during a quiescent period following injury but preceding onset of epilepsy were significantly smaller than those present either in control or in TLE DGCs, and had already acquired sensitivity to blockade by zinc prior to the onset of spontaneous seizures. Rapid agonist application experiments demonstrated that prolonged (>35 ms) exposure to zinc is required to block GABAA receptors (GABAARs) in patches pulled from epileptic DGCs. Therefore, zinc must be tonically present to block DGC GABAARs and alter DG function. This would occur only during repetitive activation of mossy fibres. Thus, in the pilocarpine animal model of TLE, an early, de novo, expression of zinc-sensitive GABAARs is coupled with delayed, epilepsy-induced development of a zinc delivery system provided by aberrant sprouting of zinc-containing mossy fibre recurrent collaterals. The temporal and spatial juxtaposition of these pathophysiological alterations may compromise normal ‘gatekeeper’ function of the DG through dynamic zinc-induced failure of inhibition, predisposing the hippocampal circuit to generate seizures.
PMCID: PMC2587416  PMID: 12752378
dentate gyrus; electrophysiology; pilocarpine; zinc; zolpidem
15.  In vitro functional imaging in brain slices using fast voltage-sensitive dye imaging combined with whole-cell patch recording 
Nature protocols  2008;3(2):249-255.
In many brain areas, circuit connectivity is segregated into specific lamina or glomerula. Functional imaging in these anatomically discrete areas is particularly useful in characterizing circuit properties. Voltage-sensitive dye (VSD) imaging directly assays the spatiotemporal dynamics of neuronal activity, including the functional connectivity of the neurons involved. In spatially segregated structures, VSD imaging can define how physiology and connectivity interact, and can identify functional abnormalities in models of neurological and psychiatric disorders. In the following protocol, we describe the in vitro slice preparation, epifluorescence setup and analyses necessary for fast charge-coupled device (CCD)-based VSD imaging combined with simultaneous whole-cell patch recording. The addition of single-cell recordings validates imaging results, and can reveal the relationship between single-cell activity and the VSD-imaged population response; in synchronously activated neurons, this change in whole-cell recorded Vm can accurately represent population Vm changes driving the VSD responses. Thus, the combined VSD imaging and whole-cell patch approach provides experimental resolution spanning single-cell electrophysiology to complex local circuit responses.
PMCID: PMC2483510  PMID: 18274527
16.  Developmental and cell-selective variations in N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor degradation by calpain 
Journal of neurochemistry  2006;99(1):206-217.
NMDA receptors play critical roles in synaptic modulation and neurological disorders. In this study, we investigated the developmental changes in NR2 cleavage by NMDA receptor-activated calpain in cultured cortical and hippocampal neurons. Calpain activity increased with development, associated with increased expression of NMDA receptors but not of calpain I. The activation of calpain in immature and mature cortical cultures was inhibited by antagonists of NR1/2B and NR1/2A/2B receptors, whereas the inhibition of NR1/2B receptors did not alter calpain activation in mature hippocampal cultures. The degradation of NR2 subunits by calpain differed with developmental age. NR2A was not a substrate of calpain in mature hippocampal cultures, but was cleaved in immature cortical and hippocampal cultures. NR2B degradation by calpain in cortical cultures decreased with development, but the level of degradation of NR2B in hippocampal cultures did not change. The kinetics of NMDA receptor-gated whole cell currents were also modulated by calpain activation in a manner that varied with developmental stage in vitro. In early (but not later) developmental stages, calpain activation altered the NMDA-evoked current rise time and time constants for both desensitization and deactivation. Our data suggest that the susceptibility of the NMDA receptor to cleavage by calpain varies with neuronal maturity in a manner that may alter its electrophysiological properties.
PMCID: PMC2483508  PMID: 16899064
excitotoxicity; glutamate; learning; NMDA receptor; protease
17.  A Neuronal Glutamate Transporter Contributes to Neurotransmitter GABA Synthesis and Epilepsy 
The predominant neuronal glutamate transporter, EAAC1 (for excitatory amino acid carrier-1), is localized to the dendrites and somata of many neurons. Rare presynaptic localization is restricted to GABA terminals. Because glutamate is a precursor for GABA synthesis, we hypothesized that EAAC1 may play a role in regulating GABA synthesis and, thus, could cause epilepsy in rats when inactivated. Reduced expression of EAAC1 by antisense treatment led to behavioral abnormalities, including staring–freezing episodes and electrographic (EEG) seizures. Extracellular hippocampal and thalamocortical slice recordings showed excessive excitability in antisense-treated rats. Patch-clamp recordings of miniature IPSCs (mIPSCs) conducted in CA1 pyramidal neurons in slices from EAAC1 antisense-treated animals demonstrated a significant decrease in mIPSC amplitude, indicating decreased tonic inhibition. There was a 50% loss of hippocampal GABA levels associated with knockdown of EAAC1, and newly synthesized GABA from extracellular glutamate was significantly impaired by reduction of EAAC1 expression. EAAC1 may participate in normal GABA neurosynthesis and limbic hyperexcitability, whereas epilepsy can result from a disruption of the interaction between EAAC1 and GABA metabolism.
PMCID: PMC2483507  PMID: 12151515
EAAC1; transport; antisense; GABA; metabolism; epilepsy
18.  Dynamic Regulation of Synaptic GABA Release by the Glutamate-Glutamine Cycle in Hippocampal Area CA1 
Vesicular GABA and intraterminal glutamate concentrations are in equilibrium, suggesting inhibitory efficacy may depend on glutamate availability. Two main intraterminal glutamate sources are uptake by neuronal glutamate transporters and glutamine synthesized through the astrocytic glutamate-glutamine cycle. We examined the involvement of the glutamate-glutamine cycle in modulating GABAergic synaptic efficacy. In the absence of neuronal activity, disruption of the glutamate-glutamine cycle by blockade of neuronal glutamine transport with α-(methylamino) isobutyric acid (MeAIB; 5 mm) or inhibition of glutamine synthesis in astrocytes with methionine sulfoximine (MSO; 1.5 mm) had no effect on miniature IPSCs recorded in hippocampal area CA1 pyramidal neurons. However, after a period of moderate synaptic activity, application of MeAIB, MSO, or dihydrokainate (250 μm; an astrocytic glutamate transporter inhibitor) significantly reduced evoked IPSC (eIPSC) amplitudes. The MSO effect could be reversed by exogenous application of glutamine (5 mm), whereas glutamine could not rescue the eIPSC decreases induced by the neuronal glutamine transporter inhibitor MeAIB. The activity-dependent reduction in eIPSCs by glutamate-glutamine cycle blockers was accompanied by an enhanced blocking effect of the low-affinity GABAA receptor antagonist, TPMPA [1,2,5,6-tetrahydropyridin-4-yl)methylphosphinic acid], consistent with diminished GABA release. We further corroborated this hypothesis by examining MeAIB effects on minimal stimulation-evoked quantal IPSCs (meIPSCs). We found that, in MeAIB-containing medium, moderate stimulation induced depression in potency of meIPSCs but no change in release probability, consistent with reduced vesicular GABA content. We conclude that the glutamate-glutamine cycle is a major contributor to synaptic GABA release under physiological conditions, which dynamically regulates inhibitory synaptic strength.
PMCID: PMC2471868  PMID: 16914680
GABAergic modulation; hippocampus; neurotransmitter; interneuron; astrocyte; astroglia; glutamate transporters; synaptic transmission; GABA; glutamine; patch clamp; unitary
19.  Fyn-mediated Phosphorylation of NR2B Tyr-1336 Controls Calpain-mediated NR2B Cleavage in Neurons and Heterologous Systems* 
The Journal of biological chemistry  2007;282(28):20075-20087.
Cleavage of the intracellular carboxyl terminus of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor 2 subunit (NR2) by calpain regulates NMDA receptor function and localization. Here, we show that Fyn-mediated phosphorylation of NR2B controls calpain-mediated NR2B cleavage. In cultured neurons, calpain-mediated NR2B cleavage is significantly attenuated by blocking NR2B phosphorylation of Tyr-1336, but not Tyr-1472, via inhibition of Src family kinase activity or decreasing Fyn levels by small interfering RNA. In HEK cells, mutation of Tyr-1336 eliminates the potentiating effect of Fyn on calpain-mediated NR2B cleavage. The potentiation of NR2B cleavage by Fyn is limited to cell surface receptors and is associated with calpain translocation to plasma membranes during NMDA receptor activation. Finally, reducing full-length NR2B by calpain does not decrease extrasynaptic NMDA receptor function, and truncated NR1/2B receptors similar to those generated by calpain have electrophysiological properties matching those of wild-type receptors. Thus, the Fyn-controlled regulation of NMDA receptor cleavage by calpain may play critical roles in controlling NMDA receptor properties during synaptic plasticity and excitotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC2464284  PMID: 17526495
20.  Increased Expression of the Neuronal Glutamate Transporter (EAAT3/EAAC1) in Hippocampal and Neocortical Epilepsy 
Epilepsia  2002;43(3):211-218.
To define the changes in gene and protein expression of the neuronal glutamate transporter (EAAT3/EAAC1) in a rat model of temporal lobe epilepsy as well as in human hippocampal and neocortical epilepsy.
The expression of EAAT3/EAAC1 mRNA was measured by reverse Northern blotting in single dissociated hippocampal dentate granule cells from rats with pilocarpine-induced temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and age-matched controls, in dentate granule cells from hippocampal surgical specimens from patients with TLE, and in dysplastic neurons microdissected from human focal cortical dysplasia specimens. Immunolabeling of rat and human hippocampi and cortical dysplasia tissue with EAAT3/EAAC1 antibodies served to corroborate the mRNA expression analysis.
The expression of EAAT3/EAAC1 mRNA was increased by nearly threefold in dentate granule cells from rats with spontaneous seizures compared with dentate granule cells from control rats. EAAT3/EAAC1 mRNA levels also were high in human dentate granule cells from patients with TLE and were significantly elevated in dysplastic neurons in cortical dysplasia compared with nondysplastic neurons from postmortem control tissue. No difference in expression of another glutamate transporter, EAAT2/GLT-1, was observed. Immunolabeling demonstrated that EAAT3/EAAC1 protein expression was enhanced in dentate granule cells from both rats and humans with TLE as well as in dysplastic neurons from human cortical dysplasia tissue.
Elevations of EAAT3/EAAC1 mRNA and protein levels are present in neurons from hippocampus and neocortex in both rats and humans with epilepsy. Upregulation of EAAT3/EAAC1 in hippocampal and neocortical epilepsy may be an important modulator of extracellular glutamate concentrations and may occur as a response to recurrent seizures in these cell types.
PMCID: PMC2441873  PMID: 11906504
Glutamate transporter; EAAT3/EAAC1; Epilepsy; Dentate; Dysplasia
22.  Disrupted Dentate Granule Cell Chloride Regulation Enhances Synaptic Excitability during Development of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy 
GABAA receptor-mediated inhibition depends on the maintenance of intracellular Cl− concentration ([Cl−]in ) at low levels. In neurons in the developing CNS, [Cl−]in is elevated, EGABA is depolarizing, and GABA consequently is excitatory. Depolarizing GABAergic synaptic responses may be recapitulated in various neuropathological conditions, including epilepsy. In the present study, rat hippocampal dentate granule cells were recorded using gramicidin perforated patch techniques at varying times (1–60 d) after an epileptogenic injury, pilocarpine-induced status epilepticus (STEP). In normal, non-epileptic animals, these strongly inhibited dentate granule cells act as a gate, regulating hippocampal excitation, controlling seizure initiation and/or propagation. For 2 weeks after STEP, we found that EGABA was positively shifted in granule cells. This shift in EGABA altered synaptic integration, increased granule cell excitability, and resulted in compromised “gate” function of the dentate gyrus. EGABA recovered to control values at longer latencies post-STEP (2–8 weeks), when animals had developed epilepsy. During this period of shifted EGABA, expression of the Cl− extruding K+/Cl− cotransporter, KCC2 was decreased. Application of the KCC2 blocker, furosemide, to control neurons mimicked EGABA shifts evident in granule cells post-STEP. Furthermore, post-STEP and furosemide effects interacted occlusively, both on EGABA in granule cells, and on gatekeeper function of the dentate gyrus. This suggests a shared mechanism, reduced KCC2 function. These findings demonstrate that decreased expression of KCC2 persists for weeks after an epileptogenic injury, reducing inhibitory efficacy and enhancing dentate granule cell excitability. This pathophysiological process may constitute a significant mechanism linking injury to the subsequent development of epilepsy.
PMCID: PMC2211568  PMID: 18094240
temporal lobe epilepsy; dentate gyrus; inhibition; chloride; GABAA receptor; hippocampus
23.  Massive and Specific Dysregulation of Direct Cortical Input to the Hippocampus in Temporal Lobe Epilepsy 
Epilepsy affects 1–2% of the population, with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) the most common variant in adults. Clinical and experimental studies have demonstrated hippocampal involvement in the seizures underlying TLE. However, identification of specific functional deficits in hippocampal circuits associated with possible roles in seizure generation remains controversial. Significant attention has focused on anatomic and cellular alterations in the dentate gyrus. The dentate gyrus is a primary gateway regulating cortical input to the hippocampus and, thus, a possible contributor to the aberrant cortical-hippocampal interactions underlying the seizures of TLE. Alternate cortical pathways innervating the hippocampus might also contribute to seizure initiation. Despite this potential importance in TLE, these pathways have received little study. Using simultaneous voltage-sensitive dye imaging and patch-clamp recordings in slices from animals with epilepsy, we assessed the relative degree of synaptic excitation activated by multiple cortical inputs to the hippocampus. Surprisingly, dentate gyrus-mediated regulation of the relay of cortical input to the hippocampus is unchanged in epileptic animals, and input via the Schaffer collaterals is actually decreased despite reduction in Schaffer-evoked inhibition. In contrast, a normally weak direct cortical input to area CA1 of hippocampus, the temporoammonic pathway, exhibits a TLE-associated transformation from a spatially restricted, highly regulated pathway to an excitatory projection with >10-fold increased effectiveness. This dysregulated temporoammonic pathway is critically positioned to mediate generation and/or propagation of seizure activity in the hippocampus.
PMCID: PMC2175390  PMID: 17108158
dentate gyrus; entorhinal; hippocampus; inhibition; temporal lobe epilepsy; temporoammonic; voltage-sensitive dye imaging
24.  Hippocampal CA1 Circuitry Dynamically Gates Direct Cortical Inputs Preferentially at Theta Frequencies 
Hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons receive intrahippocampal and extrahipppocampal inputs during theta cycle, whose relative timing and magnitude regulate the probability of CA1 pyramidal cell spiking. Extrahippocampal inputs, giving rise to the primary theta dipole in CA1 stratum lacunosum moleculare, are conveyed by the temporoammonic pathway. The temporoammonic pathway impinging onto the CA1 distal apical dendritic tuft is the most electrotonically distant from the perisomatic region yet is critical in regulating CA1 place cell activity during theta cycles. How does local hippocampal circuitry regulate the integration of this essential, but electrotonically distant, input within the theta period? Using whole-cell somatic recording and voltage-sensitive dye imaging with simultaneous dendritic recording of CA1 pyramidal cell responses, we demonstrate that temporoammonic EPSPs are normally compartmentalized to the apical dendritic tuft by feedforward inhibition. However, when this input is preceded at a one-half theta cycle interval by proximally targeted Schaffer collateral activity, temporoammonic EPSPs propagate to thesomathrough a joint, codependent mechanism involving activation of Schaffer-specific NMDA receptors and presynaptic inhibition of GABAergic terminals. These afferent interactions, tuned for synaptic inputs arriving one-half theta interval apart, are in turn modulated by feedback inhibition initiated via axon collaterals of pyramidal cells. Therefore, CA1 circuit integration of excitatory inputs endows the CA1 principal cell with a novel property: the ability to function as a temporally specific “AND” gate that provides for sequence-dependent readout of distal inputs.
PMCID: PMC2048747  PMID: 16237162
voltage-sensitive dye imaging; circuit integration; temporoammonic; inhibition; gating; theta cycle
25.  Endocannabinoids: A Critical Regulator of Activity in the Developing Brain 
Epilepsy Currents  2006;6(1):18-19.
PMCID: PMC1363373  PMID: 16477318

Results 1-25 (28)