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1.  The Subcellular Localization of Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-5 (Telencephalin) in the Visual Cortex is not Developmentally Regulated in the Absence of Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2014;522(3):10.1002/cne.23440.
The telencephalon-associated intercellular adhesion molecule 5 (Telencephalin; ICAM-5) regulates dendritic morphology in the developing brain. In vitro studies have shown that ICAM-5 is predominantly found within dendrites and immature dendritic protrusions, with reduced expression in mushroom spines, suggesting that ICAM-5 downregulation is critical for the maturation of synaptic structures. However, developmental expression of ICAM-5 has not been explored in depth at the ultrastructural level in intact brain tissue. To investigate the ultrastructural localization of ICAM-5 with transmission electron microscopy, we performed immunoperoxidase histochemistry for ICAM-5 in mouse visual cortex at postnatal day (P)14, a period of intense synaptogenesis, and at P28, when synapses mature. We observed the expected ICAM-5 expression in dendritic protrusions and shafts at both P14 and P28. ICAM-5 expression in these dendritic protrusions decreased in prevalence with developmental age to become predominantly localized to dendritic shafts by P28. To further understand the relationship between ICAM-5 and the endopeptidase metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), which mediates ICAM-5 cleavage following glutamate activation during postnatal development, we also explored ICAM-5 expression in MMP-9 null animals. This analysis revealed a similar expression of ICAM-5 in dendritic elements at P14 and P28; however an increased prevalence of ICAM-5 was noted in dendritic protrusions at P28 in the MMP-9 null animals, indicating that in the absence of MMP-9, there is no developmental shift in ICAM-5 subcellular localization. Our ultrastructural observations shed light on possible functions mediated by ICAM-5 and their regulation by extracellular proteases.
PMCID: PMC3877171  PMID: 23897576
ICAM-5; dendrite; electron microscopy; plasticity; telencephalin; MMP-9
2.  Birthdating of myenteric neuron subtypes in the small intestine of the mouse 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2014;522(3):10.1002/cne.23423.
There are many different types of enteric neurons. Previous studies have identified the time at which some enteric neuron subtypes are born (exit the cell cycle) in the mouse, but the birthdates of some major enteric neuron subtypes are still incompletely characterized or unknown. We combined 5-ethynynl-2’-deoxyuridine (EdU) labeling with antibody markers that identify myenteric neuron subtypes to determine when neuron subtypes are born in the mouse small intestine. We found that different neurochemical classes of enteric neuron differed in their birthdates; serotonin neurons were born first with peak cell cycle exit at E11.5, followed by neurofilament-M neurons, calcitonin gene-related peptide neurons (peak cell cycle exit for both at E12.5-E13.5), tyrosine hydroxylase neurons (E15.5), nitric oxide synthase 1 (NOS1) neurons (E15.5) and calretinin neurons (P0). The vast majority of myenteric neurons had exited the cell cycle by P10. We did not observe any EdU+/NOS1+ myenteric neurons in the small intestine of adult mice following EdU injection at E10.5 or E11.5, which was unexpected as previous studies have shown that NOS1 neurons are present in E11.5 mice. Studies using the proliferation marker, Ki67, revealed that very few NOS1 neurons in the E11.5 and E12.5 gut were proliferating. However, Cre-lox-based genetic fate-mapping revealed a small sub-population of myenteric neurons that appears to express NOS1 only transiently. Together, our results confirm a relationship between enteric neuron subtype and birthdate, and suggest that some enteric neurons exhibit neurochemical phenotypes during development that are different from their mature phenotype.
PMCID: PMC3877185  PMID: 23861145
3.  Differential content of vesicular glutamate transporters in subsets of vagal afferents projecting to the nucleus tractus solitarii in the rat 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2014;522(3):10.1002/cne.23438.
The vagus nerve contains primary visceral afferents that convey sensory information from cardiovascular, pulmonary, and gastrointestinal tissues to the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS). The heterogeneity of vagal afferents and their central terminals within the NTS is a common obstacle for evaluating functional groups of afferents. To determine if different anterograde tracers can be used to identify distinct subpopulations of vagal afferents within NTS, we injected cholera toxin B subunit (CTb) and isolectin B4 (IB4) into the vagus nerve. Confocal analyses of medial NTS following injections of both CTb and IB4 into the same vagus nerve resulted in labeling of two exclusive populations of fibers. The ultrastructural patterns were also distinct. CTb was found in both myelinated and unmyelinated vagal axons and terminals in medial NTS, while IB4 was found only in unmyelinated afferents. Both tracers were observed in terminals with asymmetric synapses, suggesting excitatory transmission. Since glutamate is thought to be the neurotransmitter at this first primary afferent synapse in NTS, we determined if vesicular glutamate transporters (VGLUTs) were differentially distributed among the two distinct populations of vagal afferents. Anterograde tracing from the vagus with CTb or IB4 was combined with immunohistochemistry for VGLUT1 or VGLUT2 in medial NTS and evaluated with confocal microscopy. CTb-labeled afferents contained primarily VGLUT2 (83%), while IB4-labeled afferents had low levels of vesicular transporters, VGLUT1 (5%) or VGLUT2 (21%). These findings suggest the possibility that glutamate release from unmyelinated vagal afferents may be regulated by a distinct, non-VGLUT, mechanism.
PMCID: PMC3877231  PMID: 23897509
vesicular glutamate transporter; isolectin B4; cholera toxin B subunit; vagus nerve; electron microscopy; confocal microscopy
4.  Corticocortical projections to representations of the teeth, tongue, and face in somatosensory area 3b of macaque monkeys 
We placed injections of anatomical tracers into representations of the tongue, teeth, and face in the primary somatosensory cortex (area 3b) of macaque monkeys. Our injections revealed strong projections to representations of the tongue and teeth from other parts of the oral cavity responsive region in 3b. The 3b face also provided input to the representations of the intra-oral structures. The primary representation of the face showed a pattern of intrinsic connections similar to that of the mouth. The area 3b hand representation provided little to no input to either the mouth or face representations. The mouth and face representations of area 3b received projections from the presumptive oral cavity and face regions of other somatosensory areas in the anterior parietal cortex and the lateral sulcus including areas 3a, 1, 2, the second somatosensory area (S2), the parietal ventral area (PV), and cortex that may include the parietal rostral (PR) and ventral somatosensory (VS) areas. Additional inputs came from primary motor (M1) and ventral premotor (PMv) areas. This areal pattern of projections is similar to the well-studied pattern revealed by tracer injections in regions of 3b representing the hand. The tongue representation appeared to be unique in area 3b in that it also received inputs from areas in the anterior upper bank of the lateral sulcus and anterior insula that may include the primary gustatory area (area G) and other cortical taste processing areas, as well as a region of lateral prefrontal cortex (LPFC) lining the principal sulcus.
PMCID: PMC4189840  PMID: 23853118
Somatosensory Cortex; Gustatory Cortex; Taste; Insular Cortex; Motor Cortex
5.  Ovarian Hormone-Induced Reorganization of Oxytocin-Labeled Dendrites and Synapses Lateral to the Hypothalamic Ventromedial Nucleus in Female Rats 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2010;518(22):4531-4545.
Central oxytocin (OT) modulates many social behaviors, including female rat sexual receptivity, quantified as the copulatory stance known as lordosis. The expression of the lordosis response is modulated by OT action in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMH), as demonstrated by behavioral pharmacology experiments. However, the subcellular localization of OT in this brain region has been unclear. We tested the hypothesis that ovarian hormones reorganize OT-labeled pre- or postsynaptic elements in the fiber complex lateral to the VMH by using immunoelectron microscopy. OT immunolabeling occurred in axonal boutons identified by the presence of small, clear synaptic vesicles and double labeling with the presynaptic markers synaptophysin and vesicular glutamate transporter 2. OT immunoreactivity also was observed in dendritic profiles, verified with double labeling for the dendrite-specific marker microtubule-associated protein 2. Ovarian hormones did not alter the density of axonal boutons; however, estradiol treatment reduced the density of dendritic profiles by 34%. This effect was reversed when progesterone was given subsequent to estradiol. The effect of estradiol treatment was specific to dendrites that lacked OT immunostaining; the density of OT-labeled dendritic profiles remained constant during estradiol treatment. With the estradiol-induced exit of non-OT-labeled dendritic profiles, the remaining OT-labeled dendritic profiles experienced an increase in their number of synaptic contacts. Thus, hormone treatments that mimic the 4- day rat estrous cycle provoke a chemically coded reorganization of dendrite innervation in the fiber plexus lateral to the VMH that may underlie the hormone-specific effect of OT on reproductive behavior.
PMCID: PMC4323080  PMID: 20886620
axonal boutons; dendrites; estradiol; glutamate; immunoelectron microscopy; lordosis; microtubule-associated protein 2; neurohypophyseal tract; neuropeptide; progesterone; synaptophysin; vesicular glutamatergic transporter 2
6.  Developmental Regulation of α-Amino-3-Hydroxy-5-Methyl-4-Isoxazole-Propionic Acid Receptor Subunit Expression in Forebrain and Relationship to Regional Susceptibility to Hypoxic/Ischemic Injury. I. Rodent Cerebral White Matter and Cortex 
This is the first part of a two-part study to investigate the cellular distribution and temporal regulation of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole-propionic acid receptor (AMPAR) subunits in the developing white matter and cortex in rat (part I) and human (part II). Western blot and immunocytochemistry were used to evaluate the differential expression of AMPAR subunits on glial and neuronal subtypes during the first 3 postnatal weeks in the Long Evans and Sprague Dawley rat strains. In Long Evans rats during the first postnatal week, GluR2-lacking AMPARs were expressed predominantly on white matter cells, including radial glia, premyelinating oligodendrocytes, and subplate neurons, whereas, during the second postnatal week, these AMPARs were highly expressed on cortical neurons, coincident with decreased expression on white matter cells. Immunocytochemical analysis revealed that cell-specific developmental changes in AMPAR expression occurred 2–3 days earlier by chronological age in Sprague Dawley rats compared with Long Evans rats, despite overall similar temporal sequencing. In both white and gray matter, the periods of high GluR2 deficiency correspond to those of regional susceptibility to hypoxic/ischemic injury in each of the two rat strains, supporting prior studies suggesting a critical role for Ca2+-permeable AMPARs in excitotoxic cellular injury and epileptogenesis. The developmental regulation of these receptor subunits strongly suggests that Ca2+ influx through GluR2-lacking AMPARs may play an important role in neuronal and glial development and injury in the immature brain. Moreover, as demonstrated in part II, there are striking similarities between rat and human in the regional and temporal maturational regulation of neuronal and glial AMPAR expression.
PMCID: PMC4313670  PMID: 16680782
glutamate receptor; perinatal; excitotoxicity; seizure; neuron; oligodendrocyte
7.  Sequential onset of pre-synaptic molecules during olfactory sensory neurons maturation 
Differentiated olfactory sensory neurons express specific pre-synaptic proteins, including enzymes involved in neurotransmitter transport and proteins involved in the trafficking and release of synaptic vesicles. Studying the regulation of these pre-synaptic proteins will help to elucidate the pre-synaptic differentiation process that ultimately leads to synapse formation. It has been postulated that the formation of a synapse between the axons of the sensory neurons and the dendrites of second order neurons in the olfactory bulb is a critical step in the processes of sensory neuron maturation. One approach to study the relationship between synaptogenesis and sensory neuron maturation is to examine the expression patterns of synaptic molecules through the olfactory neuron lineage. To this end we designed specific in situ hybridization probes to target messengers for proteins involved in pre-synaptic vesicle release.
Our findings show that, as they mature, mouse olfactory neurons sequentially express specific pre-synaptic genes. Furthermore, the different patterns of expression of these pre-synaptic genes suggest the existence of discrete steps in pre-synaptic development: genes encoding proteins involved in scaffolding show an early onset of expression whereas expression of genes encoding proteins involved in the regulation of vesicle release starts later. In particular, the signature molecule for glutamatergic neurons Vesicle Glutamate Transporter 2 shows the latest onset of expression. In addition, contact with the targets in the olfactory bulb is not controlling pre-synaptic protein gene expression, suggesting that olfactory sensory neurons follow an intrinsic program of development.
PMCID: PMC4313887  PMID: 19598283
olfactory epithelium; olfactory sensory neuron maturation; bulbectomy; synapse formation; Vesicle Glutamate Transporter 2
8.  The Grueneberg Ganglion olfactory subsystem employs a cGMP signaling pathway 
The mammalian olfactory sense employs several olfactory subsystems situated at characteristic locations in the nasal cavity to detect and report on different classes of odors. These olfactory subsystems use different neuronal signal transduction pathways, receptor expression repertoires, and axonal projection targets. The Grueneberg Ganglion (GG) is a newly-appreciated olfactory subsystem with receptor neurons located just inside of the nostrils that project axons to a unique domain of interconnected glomeruli in the caudal olfactory bulb. It is not well-understood how the GG relates to other olfactory subsystems in contributing to the olfactory sense. Furthermore, the range of chemoreceptors and the signal transduction cascade utilized by the GG have remained mysterious. To resolve these unknowns, we explored the molecular relationship between the GG and the GC-D neurons, another olfactory subsystem that innervates similarly-interconnected glomeruli in the same bulbar region. We found that mouse GG neurons express the cGMP-associated signaling proteins phosphodiesterase 2a, cGMP-dependent kinase II, and cyclic nucleotide gated channel subunit A3 coupled to a chemoreceptor repertoire of cilia-localized particulate guanylyl cyclases (pGC-G and pGC-A). The primary cGMP signaling pathway of the GG is shared with the GC-D neurons, unifying their target glomeruli as a unique center of olfactory cGMP signal transduction. However, the distinct chemoreceptor repertoire in the GG suggests that the GG is an independent olfactory subsystem. This subsystem is well-suited to detect a unique set of odors and to mediate behaviors that remained intact in previous olfactory perturbations.
PMCID: PMC4314211  PMID: 19565523
olfaction; Grueneberg Ganglion; necklace glomeruli; interconnected glomeruli; cGMP; guanylyl cyclase; cilia; nasal vestibule; sensory subsystems
9.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3855887  PMID: 23818142
10.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3855891  PMID: 23817991
11.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC3855892  PMID: 23853053
12.  Quantitative Analysis of Ribbons, Vesicles, and Cisterns at the Cat Inner Hair Cell Synapse: Correlations with Spontaneous Rate 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2013;521(14):3260-3271.
Cochlear hair cells form ribbon synapses with terminals of the cochlear nerve. To test the hypothesis that one function of the ribbon is to create synaptic vesicles from the cisternal structures that are abundant at the base of hair cells, we analyzed the distribution of vesicles and cisterns around ribbons from serial sections of inner hair cells in the cat, and compared data from low and high spontaneous rate (SR) synapses. Consistent with the hypothesis, we identified a “sphere of influence” of 350 nm around the ribbon, with fewer cisterns and many more synaptic vesicles. Although high- and low-SR ribbons tended to be longer and thinner than high-SR ribbons, the total volume of the two ribbon types was similar. There were almost as many vesicles docked at the active zone as attached to the ribbon. The major SR-related difference was that low-SR ribbons had more synaptic vesicles intimately associated with them. Our data suggest a trend in which low-SR synapses had more vesicles attached to the ribbon (51.3 vs. 42.8), more docked between the ribbon and the membrane (12 vs. 8.2), more docked at the active zone (56.9 vs. 44.2), and more vesicles within the “sphere of influence” (218 vs. 166). These data suggest that the structural differences between high-and low-SR synapses may be more a consequence, than a determinant, of the physiological differences.
PMCID: PMC4309284  PMID: 23787810
synaptic ribbon; presynaptic density; active zone; vesicles; exocytosis; cochlea
13.  Genetic Labeling of Steroidogenic Factor-1 (SF-1) Neurons in Mice Reveals Ventromedial Nucleus of the Hypothalamus (VMH) Circuitry Beginning at Neurogenesis and Development of a Separate Non-SF-1 Neuronal Cluster in the Ventrolateral VMH 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2013;521(6):1268-1288.
The ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus (VMH) influences a wide variety of physiological responses. Here, using two distinct but complementary genetic tracing approaches in mice, we describe the development of VMH efferent projections, as marked by steroidogenic factor-1 (SF-1; NR5A1). SF-1 neurons were visualized by Tau-green fluorescent protein (GFP) expressed from the endogenous Sf-1 locus (Sf-1TauGFP) or by crossing the transgenic Sf1:Cre driver to a GFP reporter strain (Z/EGSf1:Cre). Strikingly, VMH projections were visible early, at embryonic (E) 10.5, when few postmitotic SF1 neurons have been born, suggesting that formation of VMH circuitry begins at the onset of neurogenesis. At E14.5, comparison of these two reporter lines revealed that SF1-positive neurons in the ventrolateral VMH (VMHvl) persist in Z/EGSf1:Cre embryos but are virtually absent in Sf-1TauGFP. Therefore, although the entire VMH including the VMHvl shares a common lineage, the VMHvl further differentiates into a neuronal cluster devoid of SF-1. At birth, extensive VMH projections to broad regions of the brain were observed in both mouse reporter lines, matching well with those previously discovered by injection of axonal anterograde tracers in adult rats. In summary, our genetic tracing studies show that VMH efferent projections are highly conserved in rodents and are established far earlier than previously appreciated. Moreover, our results imply that neurons in the VMHvl adopt a distinct fate early in development, which might underlie the unique physiological functions associated with this VMH subregion.
PMCID: PMC4304766  PMID: 22987798
VMH; SF-1; ventrolateral VMH; neurocircuitry; SF-1:Cre driver; GFP labeling; genetic tracing; ventral supraoptic commissure
14.  Melatonin Receptors Are Anatomically Organized to Modulate Transmission Specifically to Cone Pathways in the Retina of Xenopus laevis 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2012;520(6):1115-1127.
Melatonin receptors have been identified in several retinal cell types, including photoreceptors, horizontal cells, amacrine cells, and ganglion cells. Recent reports suggest that melatonin potentiates signaling from rods to inner retinal neurons. However, the organization of the melatonin receptors mediating this action in the outer plexiform layer (OPL) is not clear. To assess melatonin receptor localization in the OPL, double-label confocal immunohistochemistry for Mel1a or Mel1b melatonin receptors was performed in combination with markers for cone photoreceptors (calbindin, XAP-1) and ON bipolar cells (guanine nucleotide binding protein alpha, Goα) on the retina of Xenopus laevis. Both Mel1a and Mel1b receptors were specifically associated with processes contacting the pedicles of cones, but localized to processes from different sets of second-order neurons. Mel1a receptors localized to the large axonal processes of horizontal cells, while Mel1b receptors localized to the dendrites of OFF bipolar cells. Both receptors also localized to third-order amacrine and ganglion cells and their processes in the inner plexiform layer. This study indicates that Mel1a and Mel1b melatonin receptors are expressed specifically in the Xenopus OPL to modulate transmission from cones to horizontal cells and OFF bipolar cells, respectively; they are second-order neurons that predominantly contact ribbon synapses and display OFF responses to light. When combined with results from recent physiological studies, the current results suggest a conserved function for melatonin in enhancing transmission from rods to second-order neurons across species, although the precise mechanisms by which melatonin enhances this transmission are likely to vary in a species-dependent manner.
PMCID: PMC4300947  PMID: 22020534
photoreceptor; bipolar cell; horizontal cell; dark-adaptation
15.  Organization of the Auditory Brainstem in a Lizard, Gekko gecko. I. Auditory Nerve, Cochlear Nuclei, and Superior Olivary Nuclei 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2012;520(8):1784-1799.
We used tract tracing to reveal the connections of the auditory brainstem in the Tokay gecko (Gekko gecko). The auditory nerve has two divisions, a rostroventrally directed projection of mid- to high best-frequency fibers to the nucleus angularis (NA) and a more dorsal and caudal projection of low to middle best-frequency fibers that bifurcate to project to both the NA and the nucleus magnocellularis (NM). The projection to NM formed large somatic terminals and bouton terminals. NM projected bilaterally to the second-order nucleus laminaris (NL), such that the ipsilateral projection innervated the dorsal NL neuropil, whereas the contralateral projection crossed the midline and innervated the ventral dendrites of NL neurons. Neurons in NL were generally bitufted, with dorsoventrally oriented dendrites. NL projected to the contralateral torus semicircularis and to the contralateral ventral superior olive (SOv). NA projected to ipsilateral dorsal superior olive (SOd), sent a major projection to the contralateral SOv, and projected to torus semicircularis. The SOd projected to the contralateral SOv, which projected back to the ipsilateral NM, NL, and NA. These results suggest homologous patterns of auditory connections in lizards and archosaurs but also different processing of low- and high-frequency information in the brainstem.
PMCID: PMC4300985  PMID: 22120438
auditory nerve; ITD; cochlear nuclei; superior olive; reptile; lizard; tract tracing; Tokay gecko
16.  Parallel but separate inputs from limbic cortices to the mammillary bodies and anterior thalamic nuclei in the rat 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2010;518(12):2334-2354.
The proposal that separate populations of subicular cells provide the direct hippocampal projections to the mammillary bodies and anterior thalamic nuclei was tested by placing two different fluorescent tracers in these two sites. In spite of varying the injection locations within the mammillary bodies and within the three principal anterior thalamic nuclei and the lateral dorsal thalamic nucleus, the overall pattern of results remained consistent. Neurons projecting to the thalamus were localised to the deepest cell populations within the subiculum while neurons projecting to the mammillary bodies consisted of more superficially placed pyramidal cells within the subiculum. Even when these two cell populations become more intermingled, e.g. in parts of the intermediate subiculum, almost no individual cells were found to project to both diencephalic targets. In adjacent limbic areas, i.e. the retrosplenial cortex, postsubiculum, and entorhinal cortex, populations of cells that project to the anterior thalamic nuclei and mammillary bodies were completely segregated. This segregated pattern included afferents to those nuclei comprising the head-direction system. The sole exception was a handful of double-labelled cells, mainly confined to the ventral subiculum, that were only found after pairs of injections in the anteromedial thalamic nucleus and mammillary bodies. The projections to the anterior thalamic nuclei also had a septal-temporal gradient with relatively fewer cells projecting from the ventral (temporal) subiculum. These limbic projections to the mammillary bodies and anterior thalamus comprise a circuit that is vital for memory, within which the two major components could convey parallel, independent information.
PMCID: PMC4298700  PMID: 20437531
entorhinal cortex; fornix; head-direction system; hippocampus; lateral dorsal thalamic nucleus; retrosplenial cortex; subicular cortex
17.  Segregation of parallel inputs to the anteromedial and anteroventral thalamic nuclei of the rat 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2013;521(13):2966-2986.
Many brain structures project to both the anteroventral thalamic nucleus and the anteromedial thalamic nucleus. In the present study, pairs of different tracers were placed into these two thalamic sites in the same rats to determine the extent to which these nuclei receive segregated inputs. Only inputs from the laterodorsal tegmental nucleus, the principal extrinsic cholinergic source for these thalamic nuclei, showed a marked degree of collateralisation, with approximately 13% of all cells labelled in this tegmental area projecting to both nuclei. Elsewhere, double labelled cells were very scarce, comprising ~1% of all labelled cells. Three general patterns of anterior thalamic innervation were detected in these other areas. In some sites, e.g., prelimbic cortex, anterior cingulate cortex, and secondary motor area, cells projecting to the anteromedial and anteroventral thalamic nuclei were closely intermingled, with often only subtle distribution differences. These same projections were also often intermingled with inputs to the mediodorsal thalamic nucleus, but again there was little or no collaterisation. In other sites, e.g., the subiculum and retrosplenial cortex, there was often less overlap of cells projecting to the two anterior thalamic nuclei. A third pattern related to the dense inputs from the medial mammillary nucleus, where well defined topographies ensured little intermingling of the neurons that innervate the two thalamic nuclei. The finding, that a very small minority of cortical and limbic inputs bifurcate to innervate both anterior thalamic nuclei, highlights the potential for parallel information streams to control their functions, despite arising from common regions.
PMCID: PMC4299679  PMID: 23504917
cingulate cortex; hippocampus; mediodorsal thalamic nucleus; prelimbic cortex; retrosplenial cortex; subicular cortex
18.  Coordinate Development of Skin Cells and Cutaneous Sensory Axons in Zebrafish 
Peripheral sensory axons innervate the epidermis early in embryogenesis to detect touch stimuli. To characterize the time course of cutaneous innervation and the nature of interactions between sensory axons and skin cells at early developmental stages, we conducted a detailed analysis of cutaneous innervation in the head, trunk, and tail of zebrafish embryos and larvae from 18 to 78 hours postfertilization. This analysis combined live imaging of fish expressing transgenes that highlight sensory neurons and skin cells, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and serial scanning electron microscopy (sSEM). In zebrafish, the skin initially consists of two epithelial layers, and all of the axons in the first wave of innervation are free endings. Maturation of the epithelium coincides with, but does not depend on, its innervation by peripheral sensory axons. We found that peripheral axons initially arborize between the two epithelial skin layers, but not within the basal lamina, as occurs in other organisms. Strikingly, as development proceeds, axons become tightly enveloped within basal keratinocytes, an arrangement suggesting that keratinocytes may serve structural or functional roles, akin to Schwann cells, in somatosensation mediated by these sensory neurons.
PMCID: PMC4299821  PMID: 22020759
zebrafish; somatosensation; skin; peripheral axon; trigeminal; Rohon-Beard neurons
19.  [No title available] 
PMCID: PMC4289636  PMID: 16255031
Electron tomography was used to view macromolecules composing active zone material (AZM) in axon terminals at mouse neuromuscular junctions. Connections of the macromolecules to each other, to calcium channels in the presynaptic membrane and to synaptic vesicles docked on the membrane prior to fusing with it during synaptic transmission were similar to those of AZM macromolecules at frog neuromuscular junctions previously examined by electron tomography and support the hypothesis that AZM regulates vesicle docking and fusion. A species difference in the arrangement of AZM relative to docked vesicles may help account for a greater vesicle-presynaptic membrane contact area during docking and a greater probability of fusion during synaptic transmission in mouse. Certain AZM macromolecules in mouse were connected to synaptic vesicles contacting the presynaptic membrane at sites where fusion does not occur. These secondary docked vesicles had a different relationship to the membrane and AZM macromolecules than primary docked vesicles consistent with their having a different AZM-regulated behavior.
PMCID: PMC4288958  PMID: 19226520
Active zones; neuromuscular junctions; synapses; vesicle docking; electron tomography
21.  Topographically Organized Projection to Posterior Insular Cortex from the Posterior Portion of the Ventral Medial Nucleus (VMpo) in the Long-tailed Macaque Monkey 
Prior anterograde tracing work identified somatotopically organized lamina I trigemino- and spino-thalamic terminations in a cytoarchitectonically distinct portion of posterolateral thalamus of the macaque monkey, named the posterior part of the ventral medial nucleus (VMpo; Craig, 2004b). Microelectrode recordings from clusters of selectively thermoreceptive or nociceptive neurons were used to guide precise micro-injections of various tracers in VMpo. A prior report (Craig and Zhang, 2006) described retrograde tracing results, which confirmed the selective lamina I input to VMpo and the antero-posterior (head to foot) topography. The present report describes the results of micro-injections of anterograde tracers placed at different levels in VMpo, based on the antero-posterior topographic organization of selectively nociceptive units and clusters over nearly the entire extent of VMpo. Each injection produced dense, patchy terminal labeling in a single coherent field within a distinct granular cortical area centered in the fundus of the superior limiting sulcus. The terminations were distributed with a consistent antero-posterior topography over the posterior half of the superior limiting sulcus. These observations demonstrate a specific VMpo projection area in dorsal posterior insular cortex that provides the basis for a somatotopic representation of selectively nociceptive lamina I spinothalamic activity. These results also identify the VMpo terminal area as the posterior half of interoceptive cortex; the anterior half receives input from the vagal-responsive and gustatory neurons in the basal part of the ventral medial nucleus (VMb).
PMCID: PMC4145874  PMID: 23853108
lamina I; spinothalamic; pain; thermosensory; homeostasis
22.  Distribution of language-related Cntnap2 protein in neural circuits critical for vocal learning 
Variants of the contactin associated protein-like 2 (Cntnap2) gene are risk factors for language-related disorders including autism spectrum disorder, specific language impairment, and stuttering. Songbirds are useful models for study of human speech disorders due to their shared capacity for vocal learning, which relies on similar cortico-basal ganglia circuitry and genetic factors. Here, we investigate Cntnap2 protein expression in the brain of the zebra finch, a songbird species in which males, but not females, learn their courtship songs. We hypothesize that Cntnap2 has overlapping functions in vocal learning species, and expect to find protein expression in song-related areas of the zebra finch brain. We further expect that the distribution of this membrane-bound protein may not completely mirror its mRNA distribution due to the distinct subcellular localization of the two molecular species. We find that Cntnap2 protein is enriched in several song control regions relative to surrounding tissues, particularly within the adult male, but not female, robust nucleus of the arcopallium (RA), a cortical song control region analogous to human layer 5 primary motor cortex. The onset of this sexually dimorphic expression coincides with the onset of sensorimotor learning in developing males. Enrichment in male RA appears due to expression in projection neurons within the nucleus, as well as to additional expression in nerve terminals of cortical projections to RA from the lateral magnocellular nucleus of the nidopallium. Cntnap2 protein expression in zebra finch brain supports the hypothesis that this molecule affects neural connectivity critical for vocal learning across taxonomic classes.
PMCID: PMC3883908  PMID: 23818387
autism; birdsong; Caspr2; speech; zebra finch
23.  Postnatal Developmental Expression of Regulator of G Protein Signaling 14 (RGS14) in the Mouse Brain 
Regulator of G Protein Signaling 14 (RGS14) is a multifunctional scaffolding protein that integrates G protein and MAPK signaling pathways. In the adult mouse brain, RGS14 mRNA and protein are found almost exclusively in hippocampal CA2 neurons. We have shown that RGS14 is a natural suppressor of CA2 synaptic plasticity and hippocampal-dependent learning and memory. However, the protein distribution and spatiotemporal expression patterns of RGS14 in mouse brain during postnatal development are unknown. Here, using a newly characterized monoclonal anti-RGS14 antibody, we demonstrate that RGS14 protein immunoreactivity is undetectable at birth (P0) with very low mRNA expression in the brain. However, RGS14 protein and mRNA are upregulated during early postnatal development, with protein first detected at P7, and both increasing over time until reaching highest sustained levels throughout adulthood. Our immunoperoxidase data demonstrate that RGS14 protein is expressed in regions outside of hippocampal CA2 during development including the primary olfactory areas, the anterior olfactory nucleus and piriform cortex, and the olfactory associated orbital and entorhinal cortices. RGS14 is also transiently expressed in neocortical layers II/III and V during postnatal development. Finally, we show that RGS14 protein is first detected in the hippocampus at P7 with strongest immunoreactivity in CA2 and fasciola cinerea and sporadic immunoreactivity in CA1; labeling intensity in hippocampus increases until adulthood. These results show that RGS14 mRNA and protein are upregulated throughout postnatal mouse development, and RGS14 protein exhibits a dynamic localization pattern that is enriched in hippocampus and primary olfactory cortex in the adult mouse brain.
PMCID: PMC3883939  PMID: 23817783
RGS14; hippocampus; hippocampal CA2; synaptic plasticity; RGS proteins
24.  Neuron Numbers in the Hypothalamus of the Normal Aging Rhesus Monkey: Stability Across the Adult Lifespan and Between the Sexes 
The Journal of comparative neurology  2012;520(6):1181-1197.
Normal aging is accompanied by changes in hypothalamic functions including autonomic and endocrine functions and circadian rhythms. The rhesus monkey provides an excellent model of normal aging without the potential confounds of incipient Alzheimer's disease inherent in human populations. This study examined the hypothalamus of 51 rhesus monkeys (23 male, 18 female, 6.5–31 years old) using design-based stereology to obtain unbiased estimates of neuron and glia numbers and the Cavalieri method to estimate volumes for eight reference spaces: total unilateral hypothalamus, suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), supraoptic nucleus (SON), paraventricular nucleus (PVN), dorsomedial nucleus (DM), ventromedial nucleus (VM), medial mammillary nucleus (MMN), and lateral hypothalamic area (LHA). The results demonstrated no age-related difference in neuron number, glia number, or volume in any area in either sex except the PVN of male monkeys, which showed a significant increase in both neuron and glia numbers with age. Comparison of males and females for sexual dimorphisms revealed no significant differences in neuron number. However, males had more glia overall as well as in the SCN, DM, and LHA and had a larger hypothalamic volume overall and in the SCN, SON, VM, DM, and MMN. These results demonstrate that hypothalamic neuron loss cannot account for age-related deficits in hypothalamic function and provides further evidence of the absence of neurode-generation and cell death in the normal aging rhesus monkey.
PMCID: PMC4278435  PMID: 21935936
glia number; hypothalamus volume; paraventricular nucleus (PVN); sexual dimorphism
25.  Synaptic Development of the Mouse Dorsal Lateral Geniculate Nucleus 
The dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) of the mouse has emerged as a model system in the study of thalamic circuit development. However, there is still a lack of information regarding how and when various types of retinal and nonretinal synapses develop. We examined the synaptic organization of the developing mouse dLGN in the common pigmented C57/BL6 strain, by recording the synaptic responses evoked by electrical stimulation of optic tract axons, and by investigating the ultrastructure of identified synapses. At early postnatal ages (P14), when optic tract stimulation routinely evoked an excitatory postsynaptic potential/inhibitory postsynaptic potential (EPSP/IPSP) sequence, with the latter having both a GABAA and GABAB component. Electrophysiological and ultrastructural observations were consistent. At P7, many synapses were present, but synaptic profiles lacked the ultrastructural features characteristic of the adult dLGN, and little γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) could be detected by using immunocytochemical techniques. In contrast, by P14, GABA staining was robust, mature synaptic profiles of retinal and nonretinal origin were easily distinguished, and the size and proportion of synaptic contacts were similar to those of the adult. The emergence of nonretinal synapses coincides with pruning of retinogeniculate connections, and the transition of retinal activity from spontaneous to visually driven. These results indicate that the synaptic architecture of the mouse dLGN is similar to that of other higher mammals, and thus provides further support for its use as a model system for visual system development.
PMCID: PMC4278806  PMID: 20034053
thalamus; retinogeniculate; thalamocortical; corticothalamic; interneuron; triad

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