Astrocytes contribute to many neuronal functions, including synaptogenesis, but their role in the development of synaptic plasticity remains unclear. Presynaptic muting of hippocampal glutamatergic terminals defends against excitotoxicity. Here we studied the role of astrocytes in the development of presynaptic muting at glutamatergic synapses in rat hippocampal neurons. We found that astrocytes were critical for the development of depolarization-dependent and Gi/o-dependent presynaptic muting. The ability of cAMP analogues to modulate presynaptic function was also impaired by astrocyte deficiency. Although astrocyte deprivation resulted in postsynaptic glutamate receptor deficits, this effect appeared independent of astrocytes’ role in presynaptic muting. Muting was restored with chronic, but not acute, treatment with astrocyte-conditioned medium, indicating that a soluble factor is permissive for muting. Astrocyte-derived thrombospondins (TSPs) are likely responsible because TSP1 mimicked the effect of conditioned medium, and gabapentin, a high-affinity antagonist of TSP binding to the α2δ-1 calcium channel subunit, mimicked astrocyte deprivation. We found evidence that protein kinase A activity is abnormal in astrocyte-deprived neurons but restored by TSP1, so protein kinase A dysfunction may provide a mechanism by which muting is disrupted during astrocyte deficiency. In summary our results suggest an important role for astrocyte-derived TSPs, acting through α2δ-1, in maturation of a potentially important form of presynaptic plasticity.
astrocyte; thrombospondin; presynaptic; homeostasis; plasticity
Normal aging has been associated with an increased propensity to wait for rewards. When this is tested experimentally, rewards are typically offered at increasing delays. In this setting, persistent responding for delayed rewards in aged rats could reflect either changes in the evaluation of delayed rewards or diminished learning, perhaps due to the loss of subcortical teaching signals induced by changes in reward; the loss or diminution of such teaching signals would result in slower learning with progressive delay of reward, which would appear as persistent responding. Such teaching signals have commonly been reported in phasic firing of midbrain dopamine neurons, however similar signals have also been found in reward-responsive neurons in the basolateral amygdala. Unlike dopaminergic teaching signals, those in basolateral amygdala seem to reflect surprise, increasing when reward is either better or worse than expected. Accordingly, activity is correlated with attentional responses and with the speed of learning after surprising increases or decreases in reward. Here we examined whether these attention-related teaching signals might be altered in normal aging. Young (3–6 mo) and aged (22–26 mo) male Long-Evans rats were trained on a discounting task used previously to demonstrate these signals. As expected, aged rats were less sensitive to delays, and this change was associated with a loss of attentional changes in orienting behavior and neural activity. These results indicate that normal aging alters teaching signals in the basolateral amygdala. Changes in these teaching signals may contribute to a host of age-related cognitive changes.
During the development of the peripheral nervous system there is extensive apoptosis and these neuronal corpses need to be cleared to prevent an inflammatory response. Recently, Jedi-1 and MEGF10, both expressed in glial precursor cells, were identified in mouse as having an essential role in this phagocytosis (Wu et al., 2009); however, the mechanisms by which they promote engulfment remained unknown. Both Jedi-1 and MEGF10 are homologous to the Drosophila melanogaster receptor Draper, which mediates engulfment through activation of the tyrosine kinase Shark. Here, we identify Syk, the mammalian homolog of Shark, as a signal transducer for both Jedi-1 and MEGF10. Syk interacted with each receptor independently through the Immunoreceptor Tyrosine-based Activation Motifs (ITAMs) in their intracellular domains. The interaction was enhanced by phosphorylation of the tyrosines in the ITAMs by Src family kinases (SFKs). Jedi association with Syk and activation of the kinase was also induced by exposure to dead cells. Expression of either Jedi-1 or MEGF10 in HeLa cells facilitated engulfment of carboxylated microspheres to a similar extent and there was no additive effect when they were co-expressed. Mutation of the ITAM tyrosines of Jedi-1 and MEGF10 prevented engulfment. The SFK inhibitor PP2 or a selective Syk inhibitor (BAY 61-3606) also blocked engulfment. Similarly, in co-cultures of glial precursors and dying sensory neurons from embryonic mice, addition of PP2 or knock down of endogenous Syk decreased the phagocytosis of apoptotic neurons. These results indicate that both Jedi-1 and MEGF10 can mediate phagocytosis independently through the recruitment of Syk.
Ammonia is metabolized by the liver and has established neurological effects. The current study examined the possibility that ammonia contributes to the neurotoxic effects of methamphetamine (METH). The results show that a binge dosing regimen of METH to the rat increased plasma and brain ammonia concentrations that were paralleled by evidence of hepatotoxicity. The role of peripheral ammonia in the neurotoxic effects of METH was further substantiated by the demonstration that the enhancement of peripheral ammonia excretion blocked the increases in brain and plasma ammonia and attenuated the long term depletions of dopamine and serotonin typically produced by METH. Conversely, the localized perfusion of ammonia in combination with METH, but not METH alone or ammonia alone, into the striatum recapitulated the neuronal damage produced by the systemic administration of METH. Furthermore, this damage produced by the local administration of ammonia and METH was blocked by the GYKI 52466, an AMPA receptor antagonist. These findings highlight the importance of ammonia derived from the periphery as a small molecule mediator of METH neurotoxicity and more broadly emphasize the importance of peripheral organ damage as a possible mechanism that mediates the neuropathology produced by drugs of abuse and other neuroactive molecules.
Does the sustained, elevated neural activity observed during working memory (WM) tasks reflect the short-term retention of information? Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data of delayed-recognition of visual motion in human participants were analyzed with two methods, a general linear model (GLM) and multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA). Although the GLM identified sustained, elevated delay-period activity in superior and lateral frontal cortex and in intraparietal sulcus (IPS), pattern classifiers were unable to recover trial-specific stimulus information from these delay-active regions. The converse—no sustained, elevated delay-period activity, but successful classification of trial-specific stimulus information—was true of posterior visual regions, including MT+ and calcarine and pericalcarine cortex. In contrast to stimulus information, pattern classifiers were able to extract trial-specific task instruction-related information from frontal and parietal areas showing elevated delay-period activity. Thus, the elevated delay-period activity that is measured with fMRI may reflect processes other than the storage, per se, of trial-specific stimulus information. It may be that the short-term storage of stimulus information is represented in patterns of (statistically) “subthreshold” activity distributed across regions of low-level sensory cortex that univariate methods cannot detect.
Ventral tegmental area (VTA) dopamine neurons are crucial for appetitive responses to Pavlovian cues, including cue-induced reinstatement of drug seeking. However, it is unknown which VTA inputs help activate these neurons, transducing stimuli into salient cues that drive drug-seeking behavior. Here we examined 56 VTA afferents from forebrain and midbrain that are Fos activated during cue-induced reinstatement. We injected the retrograde tracer cholera toxin β subunit (CTb) unilaterally into rostral or caudal VTA of male rats. All animals were trained to self-administer cocaine, then extinguished of this behavior.On a final test day, animals were exposed to response-contingent cocaine-associated cues, extinction conditions, a non-cocaine-predictive CS−, or a novel environment, and brains were processed to visualize CTb and Fos immunoreactivity to identify VTA afferents activated in relation to behaviors. VTA-projecting neurons in subregions of medial accumbens shell, ventral pallidum, elements of extended amygdala, and lateral septum (but not pre-frontal cortex) were activated specifically during cue-induced cocaine seeking, and some of these were also activated proportionately to the degree of cocaine seeking. Surprisingly, though efferents from the lateral hypothalamic orexin field were also Fos activated during reinstatement, these were largely non-orexinergic. Also, VTA afferents from the rostromedial tegmental nucleus and lateral habenula were specifically activated during extinction and CS− tests, when cocaine was not expected. These findings point to a select set of subcortical nuclei which provide reinstatement-related inputs to VTA, translating conditioned stimuli into cocaine-seeking behavior.
Numerous neurons release two transmitters of low molecular mass, but it is controversial whether they are localized within the same synaptic vesicle, with the single exception of GABA and glycine because they are ferried into the vesicle by the same transporter. Retinal dopaminergic amacrine (DA) cells synthesize both dopamine and GABA. Both transmitters are released over the entire cell surface and act on neighboring and distant neurons by volume transmission, but, in addition, DA cells establish GABAergic synapses onto AII amacrine cells, the neurons that transfer rod signals to cone bipolars. By combining recordings of dopamine and GABA release from isolated, genetically identified perikarya of DA cells from the mouse retina, we observed that a proportion of the events of dopamine and GABA exocytosis were simultaneous, suggesting co-release. Furthermore, a proportion of the secretory organelles in the perikaryon and synaptic endings of DA cells contained both vesicular transporters for dopamine (VMAT2) and GABA (VGAT). Since the majority of the dopamine release events concerned a single transmitter and organelles were present that contained a single transporter, either VMAT2 or VGAT, we conclude that the secretory organelles of DA cells contain variable concentrations of the two transmitters, which are in turn determined by a variable mixture of the two transporter molecules in their limiting membrane. This variability can be explained if the relative numbers of transporter molecules is determined stochastically during the budding of the somatic organelles from the trans-Golgi-network or the retrieval of the vesicular membrane from the plasmalemma after exocytosis.
Denervation induced plastic changes impair locomotor recovery after spinal cord injury (SCI). Spinal motoneurons become hyperexcitable after SCI, but the plastic responses of locomotor network interneurons after SCI have not been studied. Using an adult mouse SCI model, we analyzed the effects of complete spinal cord lesions on the intrinsic electrophysiological properties, excitability and neuromodulatory responses to serotonin (5-HT) in mouse lumbar V2a spinal interneurons, which help regulate left-right alternation during locomotion. Four weeks after SCI, V2a interneurons showed almost no changes in baseline excitability or action potential properties; the only parameter that changed was a reduced input resistance. However, V2a interneurons became 100-1000 fold more sensitive to 5-HT. Immunocytochemical analysis showed that SCI caused a coordinated loss of serotonergic fibers and the 5-HT transporter (SERT). Blocking the SERT with citalopram in intact mice did not increase 5-HT sensitivity to the level seen after SCI. SCI also evoked an increase in 5-HT2C receptor cluster number and intensity, suggesting that several plastic changes cooperate in increasing 5-HT sensitivity. Our results suggest that different components of the spinal neuronal network responsible for coordinating locomotion are differentially affected by SCI, and highlight the importance of understanding these changes when considering therapies targeted at functional recovery.
Previous studies have shown that injured dorsal column sensory axons extend across a spinal cord lesion site if axons are guided by a gradient of neurotrophin-3 (NT-3) rostral to the lesion. Here we examined whether continuous NT-3 delivery is necessary to sustain regenerated axons in the injured spinal cord. Using tetracycline-regulated (tet-off) lentiviral gene delivery, NT-3 expression was tightly controlled by doxycycline administration. To examine axon growth responses to regulated NT-3 expression, adult rats underwent a C3 dorsal funiculus lesion. The lesion site was filled with bone marrow stromal cells, tet-off-NT-3 virus was injected rostral to the lesion site and the intrinsic growth capacity of sensory neurons was activated by a conditioning lesion. When NT-3 gene expression was turned on, CTB-labeled sensory axons regenerated into and beyond the lesion/graft site. Surprisingly, the number of regenerated axons significantly declined when NT-3 expression was turned off, whereas continued NT-3 expression sustained regenerated axons. Quantification of axon numbers beyond the lesion demonstrated a significant decline of axon growth in animals with transient NT-3 expression, only some axons that had regenerated over longer distance were sustained. Regenerated axons were located in white matter and did not form axodendritic synapses but expressed presynaptic markers when closely associated with NG2-labeled cells. A decline in axon density was also observed within cellular grafts after NT-3 expression was turned off possibly via reduction in L1 and laminin expression in Schwann cells. Thus, multiple mechanisms underlie the inability of transient NT-3 expression to fully sustain regenerated sensory axons.
neurotrophin; tetracycline; regulated gene expression; ascending sensory axon; regeneration; dorsal column
Glia exhibit spontaneous and activity-dependent fluctuations in intracellular Ca2+, yet it is unclear whether glial Ca2+ oscillations are required during neuronal signaling. Somatic glial Ca2+ waves are primarily mediated by the release of intracellular Ca2+ stores, and their relative importance in normal brain physiology has been disputed. Recently, near-membrane microdomain Ca2+ transients were identified in fine astrocytic processes and found to arise via an intracellular store-independent process. Here, we describe the identification of rapid, near-membrane Ca2+ oscillations in Drosophila cortex glia of the CNS. In a screen for temperature-sensitive conditional seizure mutants, we identified a glial-specific Na+/Ca2+, K+ exchanger (zydeco) that is required for microdomain Ca2+ oscillatory activity. We found that zydeco mutant animals exhibit increased susceptibility to seizures in response to a variety of environmental stimuli, and that zydeco is required acutely in cortex glia to regulate seizure susceptibility. We also found that glial expression of calmodulin is required for stress-induced seizures in zydeco mutants, suggesting a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent glial signaling pathway underlies glial–neuronal communication. These studies demonstrate that microdomain glial Ca2+ oscillations require NCKX-mediated plasma membrane Ca2+ flux, and that acute dysregulation of glial Ca2+ signaling triggers seizures.
Interferon Alpha (IFNα) is a pleomorphic cytokine produced by nucleated cells in response to viral infection. In patients, treatment with IFNα has side effects including cognitive impairment resembling subcortical dementia, which is a hallmark of HIV associated dementia (HAD). IFNα is increased in the cerebrospinal fluid of HAD patients compared to HIV patients without dementia. In this study, blocking IFNα in a HIV encephalitis (HIVE) mouse model with intraperitoneal (i.p) injections of IFNα neutralizing antibodies (NAb) significantly improved cognitive function compared to untreated or control antibody treated HIVE mice during water radial arm maze behavioral testing. Treatment with IFNα NAb significantly decreased microgliosis and prevented loss of dendritic arborization in the brains of HIVE mice. Furthermore, treatment of primary neuron cultures with IFNα resulted in dose dependent loss of dendritic arborization that was blocked with IFNα NAb treatment and partially blocked with NMDA antagonists (AP5 and MK801) indicating glutamate signaling is involved in IFNα mediated neuronal damage. These results show that IFNα has a major role in the pathogenesis of HIVE in mice and is likely important in the development neurocognitive dysfunction in humans with HIV. Blocking IFNα could be important in improving cognitive and pathological developments in HAD patients and may be clinically important in other neuroinflammatory diseases as well.
Cytokines; Encephalitis; Dementia; Neuropathogenesis; HIV; Neuronal Dysfunction
We report a novel multisensory decision task designed to encourage subjects to combine information across both time and sensory modalities. We presented subjects, humans and rats, with multisensory event streams, consisting of a series of brief auditory and/or visual events. Subjects made judgments about whether the event rate of these streams was high or low. We have three main findings: First, we report that subjects can combine multisensory information over time to improve judgments about whether a fluctuating rate is high or low. Importantly, the improvement we observed was frequently close to, or better than, the statistically optimal prediction. Second, we found that subjects showed a clear multisensory enhancement both when the inputs in each modality were redundant and also when they provided independent evidence about the rate. This latter finding suggests a model where event rates are estimated separately for each modality and fused at a later stage. Finally, because a similar multisensory enhancement was observed in both humans and rats, we conclude that the ability to optimally exploit sequentially presented multisensory information is not restricted to a particular species.
In order to identify candidate proteins in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) as potential pharmacotherapeutic targets for treating cocaine addition, an 8-plex iTRAQ proteomic screen was performed using NAc tissue obtained from rats trained to self-administer cocaine followed by extinction training. Compared to yoked-saline controls, 42 proteins in a postsynaptic density (PSD)-enriched subfraction of the NAc from cocaine-trained animals were identified as significantly changed. Among proteins of interest whose levels were identified as increased was AKAP79/150, the rat ortholog of human AKAP5, a PSD scaffolding protein that localizes signaling molecules to the synapse. Functional down-regulation of AKAP79/150 by microinjecting a cell-permeable synthetic AKAP peptide into the NAc in order to disrupt AKAP-dependent signaling revealed that inhibition of AKAP signaling impaired the reinstatement of cocaine-seeking. Reinstatement of cocaine-seeking is thought to require upregulated surface expression of AMPA glutamate receptors, and the inhibitory AKAP peptide reduced the PSD content of PKA as well as surface expression of GluR1 in NAc. However, reduced surface expression was not associated with changes in PKA phosphorylation of GluR1. This series of experiments demonstrates that proteomic analysis provides a useful tool for identifying proteins that can regulate cocaine relapse, and that AKAP proteins may contribute to relapse vulnerability by promoting increased surface expression of AMPA receptors in the NAc.
iTRAQ; AKAP; proteomics; cocaine; addiction; self-administration; GluR1; GLAST; CaMKII; bassoon
AMPA receptors (AMPARs) mediate synaptic transmission and plasticity during learning, development, and disease. Mechanisms determining subsynaptic receptor position are poorly understood but are key determinants of quantal size. We used a series of live-cell, high-resolution imaging approaches to measure protein organization within single postsynaptic densities in rat hippocampal neurons. By photobleaching receptors in synapse subdomains, we found that most AMPARs do not freely diffuse within the synapse, indicating they are embedded in a matrix that determines their subsynaptic position. However, time lapse analysis revealed that synaptic AMPARs are continuously repositioned in concert with plasticity of this scaffold matrix rather than simply by free diffusion. Using a fluorescence correlation analysis, we found that across the lateral extent of single PSDs, component proteins were differentially distributed, and this distribution was continually adjusted by actin treadmilling. The C-terminal PDZ ligand of GluA1 did not regulate its mobility or distribution in the synapse. However, glutamate receptor activation promoted subsynaptic mobility. Strikingly, subsynaptic immobility of both AMPARs and scaffold molecules remained essentially intact even after loss of actin filaments. We conclude that receptors are actively repositioned at the synapse by treadmilling of the actin cytoskeleton, an influence which is transmitted only indirectly to receptors via the pliable and surprisingly dynamic internal structure of the PSD.
Substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr) is a key basal ganglia output nucleus critical for movement control. Its γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-containing projection neurons intermingle with nigral dopamine (DA) neuron dendrites. Here we show that SNr GABA neurons co-express dopamine D1 and D5 receptor mRNAs and also mRNA for TRPC3 channels. Dopamine induced an inward current in these neurons and increased their firing frequency. These effects were mimicked by D1-like agonists, blocked by a D1-like antagonist. D1-like receptor blockade reduced SNr GABA neuron firing frequency and increased their firing irregularity. These D1-like effects were absent in D1 or D5 receptor knockout mice and inhibited by intracellularly applied D1 or D5 receptor antibody. These D1-like effects were also inhibited when the tonically active TRPC3 channels were inhibited by intracellularly applied TRPC3 channel antibody. Furthermore, stimulation of DA neurons induced a direct inward current in SNr GABA neurons that was sensitive to D1-like blockade. Manipulation of DA neuron activity and DA release and inhibition of dopamine reuptake affected SNr GABA neuron activity in a D1-like receptor-dependent manner. Taken together, our findings indicate that dendritically released dopamine tonically excites SNr GABA neurons via D1-D5 receptor co-activation that enhances constitutively active TRPC3 channels, forming an ultra-short SNc→SNr dopamine pathway that regulates the firing intensity and pattern of these basal ganglia output neurons.
basal ganglia; dopamine receptor; spontaneous firing; substantia nigra pars reticulata; TRP channel; Parkinson’s disease
Live imaging studies of the processes of demyelination and remyelination have so far been technically limited in mammals. We have thus generated a Xenopus laevis transgenic line allowing live imaging and conditional ablation of myelinating oligodendrocytes throughout the central nervous system (CNS). In these transgenic pMBP-eGFP-NTR tadpoles the myelin basic protein (MBP) regulatory sequences, specific to mature oligodendrocytes, are used to drive expression of an eGFP (enhanced green fluorescent protein) reporter fused to the E. coli nitroreductase (NTR) selection enzyme. This enzyme converts the innocuous pro-drug metronidazole (MTZ) to a cytotoxin. Using two-photon imaging in vivo, we show that pMBP-eGFP-NTR tadpoles display a graded oligodendrocyte ablation in response to MTZ, which depends on the exposure time to MTZ. MTZ-induced cell death was restricted to oligodendrocytes, without detectable axonal damage. After cessation of MTZ treatment, remyelination proceeded spontaneously, but was strongly accelerated by retinoic acid. Altogether, these features establish the Xenopus pMBP-eGFP-NTR line as a novel in vivo model for the study of demyelination/remyelination processes and for large-scale screens of therapeutic agents promoting myelin repair.
Recent evidence has shown that glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSCs) can transdifferentiate into endothelial cells and vascular-like tumor cells. The latter pattern of vascularization indicates an alternative microvascular circulation known as vasculogenic mimicry (VM). However, it remains to be clarified how the GSC-driven VM makes a significant contribution to tumor vasculature. Here, we investigated eleven cases of glioblastomas and found that most of them consisted of blood-perfused vascular channels that co-express mural cell markers smooth muscle alpha actin and platelet-derived growth factor receptor β, epidermal growth factor receptor, and vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (Flk-1), but not CD31 or VE-cadherin. This microvasculature co-existed with endothelial cell-associated vessels. GSCs derived from patients with glioblastomas developed vigorous mural cell-associated vascular channels but few endothelial cell vessels in orthotopic animal models. Suppression of Flk-1 activity and gene expression abrogated GSC transdifferentiation and vascularization in vitro, and inhibited VM in animal models. This study establishes mural-like tumor cells differentiated from GSCs as a significant contributor to microvasculature of glioblastoma and points to Flk-1 as a potential target for therapeutic intervention which could complement current anti-angiogenic treatment.
vasculogenic mimicry; mural-like cell transdifferentiation; endothelial cell-transdifferentiation; glioblastoma stem-like cells
Real world tasks often require movements that depend on a previous action or on changes in the state of the world. Here we investigate whether motor memories encode the current action in a manner that depends on previous sensorimotor states. Human subjects performed trials in which they made movements in a randomly selected clockwise or counter-clockwise velocity-dependent curl force-field. Movements during this adaptation phase were preceded by a contextual phase that determined which of the two fields would be experienced on any given trial. As expected from previous research, when static visual cues were presented in the contextual phase, strong interference (resulting in an inability to learn either field) was observed. In contrast, when the contextual phase involved subjects making a movement that was continuous with the adaptation phase movement, a substantial reduction in interference was seen. As the time between the contextual and adaptation movement increased, so did the interference, reaching a level similar to that seen for static visual cues for delays greater than 600 ms. This contextual effect generalized to purely visual motion, active movement without vision, passive movement and isometric force generation. Our results show that sensorimotor states that differ in their recent temporal history can engage distinct representations in motor memory, but this effect decays progressively over time and is abolished by around 600ms. This suggests that motor memories are encoded not simply as a mapping from current state to motor command, but are encoded in terms of the recent history of sensorimotor states.
motor learning; context; memory; interference; dynamic learning; human
Thalamocortical neurons in dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) dynamically convey visual information from retina to the neocortex. Activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) exerts multiple effects on neural integration in dLGN; however, their direct influence on the primary sensory input, namely retinogeniculate afferents, is unknown. In the present study, we found that pharmacological or synaptic activation of type 1 mGluRs (mGluR1) significantly depresses glutamatergic retinogeniculate excitation in rat thalamocortical neurons. Pharmacological activation of mGluR1 attenuates excitatory synaptic responses in thalamocortical neurons at a magnitude sufficient to decrease suprathreshold output of these neurons. The reduction in both N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and (RS)-α-Amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isαoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor-dependent synaptic responses results from a presynaptic reduction in glutamate release from retinogeniculate terminals. The suppression of retinogeniculate synaptic transmission and dampening of thalamocortical output was mimicked by tetanic activation of retinogeniculate afferent in a frequency dependent manner that activated mGluR1. Retinogeniculate excitatory synaptic transmission was also suppressed by the glutamate transport blocker DL-threo-beta-benzyloxyaspartic acid (TBOA), suggesting that mGluR1 were activated by glutamate spillover. The data indicate that presynaptic mGluR1 contributes to an activity dependent mechanism that regulates retinogeniculate excitation and therefore plays a significant role in the thalamic gating of visual information.
The amplitude of the depolarization-evoked Ca2+ transient is larger in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons from tumor-bearing mice compared to that of neurons from naive mice, and the change is mimicked by co-culturing DRG neurons with the fibrosarcoma cells used to generate the tumors (Khasabova et al., 2007). The effect of palmitoylethanolamide (PEA), a ligand for the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-alpha (PPARα), was determined on the evoked-Ca2+ transient in the co-culture condition. The level of PEA was reduced in DRG cells from tumor-bearing mice as well as those co-cultured with fibrosarcoma cells. Pretreatment with PEA, a synthetic PPARα agonist (GW7647), or ARN077, an inhibitor of the enzyme that hydrolyses PEA, acutely decreased the amplitude of the evoked Ca2+ transient in small DRG neurons co-cultured with fibrosarcoma cells. The PPARα antagonist GW6471 blocked the effect of each. In contrast, the PPARα agonist was without effect in the control condition, but the antagonist increased the amplitude of the Ca2+ transient suggesting that PPARα receptors are saturated by endogenous ligand under basal conditions. Effects of drugs on mechanical sensitivity in vivo paralleled their effects on DRG neurons in vitro. Local injection of ARN077 decreased mechanical hyperalgesia in tumor-bearing mice, and the effect was blocked by GW6471. These data support the conclusion that the activity of DRG neurons is rapidly modulated by PEA through a PPARα-dependent mechanism. Moreover, agents that increase the activity of PPARα may provide a therapeutic strategy to reduce tumor-evoked pain.
Unlike many other vertebrates, a healthy mammalian retina does not grow throughout life and lacks a ciliary margin zone capable of actively generating new neurons. The isolation of stem-like cells from the ciliary epithelium has led to speculation that the mammalian retina and/or surrounding tissues may retain neurogenic potential capable of responding to retinal damage. Using genetically altered mouse lines with varying degrees of retinal ganglion cell loss, we show that the retinal margin responds to ganglion cell loss by prolonging specific neurogenic activity, as characterized by increased numbers of Atoh7LacZ expressing cells. The extent of neurogenic activity correlated with the degree of ganglion cell deficiency. In the pars plana, but not the retinal margin, cells remain proliferative into adulthood, marking the junction of pars plana and retinal margin as a niche capable of producing proliferative cells in the mammalian retina and a potential cellular source for retinal regeneration.
Math5; Atoh7; ciliary body; pars plana; CMZ; retinal stem cell
Spinocerebellar ataxia 2 (SCA2) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive ataxia. SCA2 results from a polyglutamine (polyQ) expansion in the cytosolic protein ataxin-2 (Atx2). Cerebellar Purkine cells (PC) are primarily affected in SCA2, but the cause of PC dysfunction and death in SCA2 is poorly understood. In previous studies, we reported that mutant but not wild type Atx2 specifically binds the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (InsP3R) and increases its sensitivity to activation by InsP3. We further proposed that the resulting supranormal calcium (Ca2+) release from the PC endoplasmic reticulum (ER) plays a key role in the development of SCA2 pathology. To test this hypothesis, we achieved a chronic suppression of InsP3R-mediated Ca2+ signaling by adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated expression of the inositol 1,4,5-phosphatase (Inpp5a) enzyme (5PP) in PCs of a SCA2 transgenic mouse model. We determined that recombinant 5PP overexpression alleviated age-dependent dysfunction in the firing pattern of SCA2 PCs. We further discovered that chronic 5PP overexpression also rescued age-dependent motor incoordination and PC death in SCA2 mice. Our findings further support the important role of supranormal Ca2+ signaling in SCA2 pathogenesis and suggest that partial inhibition of InsP3-mediated Ca2+ signaling could provide therapeutic benefit for the patients afflicted with SCA2 and possibly other SCAs.
Humans take into account their own movement variability as well as potential consequences of different movement outcomes in planning movement trajectories. When variability increases, planned movements are altered so as to optimize expected consequences of the movement. Past research has focused on the steady-state responses to changing conditions of movement under risk. Here, we study the dynamics of such strategy adjustment in a visuomotor decision task in which subjects reach toward a display with regions that lead to rewards and penalties, under conditions of changing uncertainty. In typical reinforcement-learning tasks, subjects should base subsequent strategy by computing an estimate of the mean outcome (e.g., reward) in recent trials. In contrast, in our task strategy should be based on a dynamic estimate of recent outcome uncertainty (i.e., squared error). We find that subjects respond to increased movement uncertainty by aiming movements more conservatively with respect to penalty regions, and that the estimate of uncertainty they use is well characterized by a weighted average of recent squared errors, with higher weights given to more recent trials.
hand movements; movement planning; uncertainty estimation; visuo-motor control
MeCP2 is a key player in recognizing methylated DNA and interpreting the epigenetic information encoded in different DNA methylation patterns. The functional significance of MeCP2 to the mammalian nervous system is highlighted by the discovery that mutations in the MECP2 gene cause Rett syndrome (RTT), a devastating neurological disease that shares many features with autism. Synaptic scaling is a form of non-Hebbian homeostatic plasticity that allows neurons to regulate overall excitability in response to changes in network neuronal activity levels. While it is known that neuronal activity can induce phosphorylation of MeCP2 and that MeCP2 can regulate synaptic scaling, the molecular link between MeCP2 phosphorylation and synaptic scaling remains undefined. We show here that MeCP2 phosphorylation is specifically required for bicuculine-induced synaptic scaling down in mouse hippocampal neurons and this phenotype is mediated by mGluR5. Our results reveal an important function of MeCP2 in regulating neuronal homeostasis and may eventually help us understand how MECP2 mutations cause RTT.