Compensatory endocytosis of exocytosed membrane and recycling of synaptic vesicle components is essential for sustained synaptic transmission at nerve terminals. At the ribbon-type synapse of retinal bipolar cells, manipulations expected to inhibit the interactions of the clathrin adaptor protein complex (AP2) affect only the slow phase of endocytosis (τ = 10–15 s), leading to the conclusion that fast endocytosis (τ = 1–2 s) occurs by a mechanism that differs from the classical pathway of clathrin-coated vesicle retrieval from the plasma membrane. Here we investigate the role of endophilin in endocytosis at this ribbon synapse. Endophilin A1 is a synaptically enriched N-BAR domain-containing protein, suggested to function in clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Internal dialysis of the synaptic terminal with dominant-negative endophilin A1 lacking its linker and Src homology 3 (SH3) domain inhibited the fast mode of endocytosis, while slow endocytosis continued. Dialysis of a peptide that binds endophilin SH3 domain also decreased fast retrieval. Electron microscopy indicated that fast endocytosis occurred by retrieval of small vesicles in most instances. These results indicate that endophilin is involved in fast retrieval of synaptic vesicles occurring by a mechanism that can be distinguished from the classical pathway involving clathrin-AP2 interactions.
Pavlovian fear conditioning provides one of the best rodent models of acquired anxiety disorders, including posttraumatic stress disorder. Injection of a variety of drugs after training in fear-conditioning paradigms can impair consolidation of fear memories. Indeed, early clinical trials suggest that immediate administration of such drugs after a traumatic event may decrease the risk of developing posttraumatic stress disorder in humans (Pitman et al., 2002; Vaiva et al., 2003). The use of such a treatment is limited by the difficulty of treating every patient at risk and by the difficulty in predicting which patients will experience chronic adverse consequences. Recent clinical trials suggest that administration of glucocorticoids may have a beneficial effect on established posttraumatic stress disorder (Aerni et al., 2004) and specific phobia (Soravia et al., 2006). Conversely, glucocorticoid administration after training is known to enhance memory consolidation (McGaugh and Roozendaal, 2002; Roozendaal, 2002). From a clinical perspective, enhancement of a fear memory or a reactivated fear memory would not be desirable. We report here that when glucocorticoids are administered immediately after reactivation of a contextual fear memory, subsequent recall is significantly diminished. Additional experiments support the interpretation that glucocorticoids not only decrease fear memory retrieval but, in addition, augment consolidation of fear memory extinction rather than decreasing reconsolidation. These findings provide a rodent model for a potential treatment of established acquired anxiety disorders in humans, as suggested by others (Aerni et al., 2004; Schelling et al., 2004), based on a mechanism of enhanced extinction.
learning; memory; reconsolidation; consolidation; fear conditioning; recall; extinction; glucocorticoid
Each subunit in a homo-pentameric Cys-loop receptor contains a specialized coupling region positioned between the agonist binding domain and the ion conductive channel. To determine the contribution of each coupling region to the stability of the open channel, we constructed a receptor subunit (α7-5HT3A) with both a disabled coupling region and a reporter mutation that alters unitary conductance, and co-expressed normal and mutant subunits. The resulting receptors show single channel current amplitudes that are quantized according to the number of reporter mutations per receptor, allowing correlation of the number of intact coupling regions with mean open time. We find that each coupling region contributes an equal increment to the stability of the open channel. However by altering the numbers and locations of active coupling regions and binding sites, we find that a coupling region in a subunit flanked by inactive binding sites can still stabilize the open channel. We also determine minimal requirements for channel opening regardless of stability, and find that channel opening can occur in a receptor with one active coupling region flanked by functional binding sites, or with one active binding site flanked by functional coupling regions. The overall findings show that whereas the agonist binding sites contribute inter-dependently and asymmetrically to open channel stability, the coupling regions contribute independently and symmetrically.
nicotinic receptor; Cys-loop receptor; patch-clamp; channel lifetime
Ibuprofen is a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug widely used to relieve pain and inflammation in many disorders via inhibition of cyclooxygenases. Recently, we have demonstrated that ibuprofen inhibits intracellular signaling of RhoA and promotes significant axonal growth and functional recovery following spinal cord lesions in rodents. In addition, another study suggests that ibuprofen reduces generation of amyloid-β42 peptide via inactivation of RhoA signaling, although it may also regulate amyloid-β42 formation by direct inhibition of the γ-secretase complex. The molecular mechanisms by which ibuprofen inhibits the RhoA signal in neurons, however, remain unclear. Here, we report that the transcription factor peroxisome proliferator-activated receptorγ (PPARγ) is essential for coupling ibuprofen to RhoA inhibition and subsequent neurite growth promotion in neurons. Ibuprofen activates PPARγ in neuron-like PC12 and B104 cells. Activation of PPARγ with traditional agonists mimics the RhoA-inhibiting properties of ibuprofen in PC12 cells and, like ibuprofen, promotes neurite elongation in primary cultured neurons exposed to axonal growth inhibitors. Protein knockdown with small interfering RNA specific for PPARγ blocks RhoA suppression of PPARγ agonists in PC12 cells. Moreover, the effect of ibuprofen on RhoA activity and neurite growth in neuronal cultures is prevented by selective PPARγ inhibition. These findings support that PPARγ plays an essential role in mediating the RhoA-inhibiting effect of ibuprofen. Elucidation of the novel molecular mechanisms linking ibuprofen to RhoA inhibition may provide additional therapeutic targets to the disorders characterized by RhoA activation, including spinal cord injuries and Alzheimer’s disease.
PTEN (phosphatase and tensin homolog deleted on chromosome ten) is a lipid phosphatase that counteracts the function of phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K). Loss of function of PTEN results in constitutive activation of AKT and downstream effectors and correlates with many human cancers, as well as various brain disorders, including macrocephaly, seizures, Lhermitte–Duclos disease, and autism. We previously generated a conditional Pten knock-out mouse line with Pten loss in limited postmitotic neurons in the cortex and hippocampus. Pten-null neurons developed neuronal hypertrophy and loss of neuronal polarity. The mutant mice exhibited macrocephaly and behavioral abnormalities reminiscent of certain features of human autism. Here, we report that rapamycin, a specific inhibitor of mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1), can prevent and reverse neuronal hypertrophy, resulting in the amelioration of a subset of PTEN-associated abnormal behaviors, providing evidence that the mTORC1 pathway downstream of PTEN is critical for this complex phenotype.
PTEN; tuberous sclerosis complex; autism; macrocephaly; neuronal hypertrophy; neuronal polarity
Survival of inner ear sensory neurons depends on two neurotrophins, BDNF and NT-3, and their respective receptors, TrkB and TrkC. Because both receptors are present in the same neuron, it has been suggested that BDNF and NT-3 are functionally redundant in promoting neuronal survival. Knock-in of one ligand into the locus of the other one confirmed this hypothesis for the cochlea, leaving open the question of why two neurotrophins are required for proper innervation of the mammalian ear. Here, we show that the precise spatiotemporal pattern of expression of the two neurotrophins is essential for proper patterning of the inner ear innervation. Mice expressing BDNF under the control of the NT-3 promoter develop exuberant projections of vestibular sensory neurons to the basal turn of the cochlea. This projection can be enhanced by combining the transgene with a null mutation of BDNF. However, vestibular fibers rerouted into the cochlea do not reach hair cells and remain outside the organ of Corti, suggesting a chemotactic role for neurotrophins on these fibers. Our data provide genetic evidence that neurotrophins in the ear exert both survival and axon guidance roles.
cochlea; ear; guidance; neurotrophic; neurotropic; vestibular
Many biochemical networks are robust to variations in network or stimulus parameters. Although robustness is considered an important design principle of such networks, it is not known whether this principle also applies to higher-level biological processes such as animal behavior. In thermal gradients, C. elegans uses thermotaxis to bias its movement along the direction of the gradient. Here we develop a detailed, quantitative map of C. elegans thermotaxis and use these data to derive a computational model of thermotaxis in the soil, a natural environment of C. elegans. This computational analysis indicates that thermotaxis enables animals to avoid temperatures at which they cannot reproduce, to limit excursions from their adapted temperature, and to remain relatively close to the surface of the soil, where oxygen is abundant. Furthermore, our analysis reveals that this mechanism is robust to large variations in the parameters governing both worm locomotion and temperature fluctuations in the soil. We suggest that, similar to biochemical networks, animals evolve behavioral strategies that are robust, rather than strategies that rely on fine-tuning of specific behavioral parameters.
ehavior; C. elegans; temperature; neuroethology; computational models; robustness
Guanylate cyclase activating protein 2 (GCAP2) is a recoverin-like Ca2+-sensor protein known to modulate guanylate cyclase activity in photoreceptor outer segments. GCAP2 is also present in photoreceptor ribbon synapses where its function is unknown. Synaptic ribbons are active zone-associated presynaptic structures in the tonically active photoreceptor ribbon synapses and contain RIBEYE as a unique and major protein component. In the present study, we demonstrate by various independent approaches that GCAP2 specifically interacts with RIBEYE in photoreceptor synapses. We show that the flexible hinge 2 linker region of RIBEYE(B) domain that connects the nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH)-binding subdomain with the substrate-binding subdomain (SBD) binds to the C terminus of GCAP2. We demonstrate that the RIBEYE–GCAP2 interaction is induced by the binding of NADH to RIBEYE. RIBEYE–GCAP2 interaction is modulated by the SBD. GCAP2 is strongly expressed in synaptic terminals of light-adapted photoreceptors where GCAP2 is found close to synaptic ribbons as judged by confocal microscopy and proximity ligation assays. Virus-mediated overexpression of GCAP2 in photoreceptor synaptic terminals leads to a reduction in the number of synaptic ribbons. Therefore, GCAP2 is a prime candidate for mediating Ca2+-dependent dynamic changes of synaptic ribbons in photoreceptor synapses.
The time-dependent integration of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic currents is an important process for shaping the input-output profiles of individual excitable cells, and therefore the activity of neuronal networks. Here, we show that the decay time-course of GABAergic inhibitory synaptic currents is considerably faster when recorded with physiological internal Cl− concentrations than with symmetrical Cl− solutions. This effect of intracellular Cl− is due to a direct modulation of the GABAA receptor that is independent of the net direction of current flow through the ion channel. As a consequence, the time window during which GABAergic inhibition can counteract coincident excitatory inputs is much shorter, under physiological conditions, compared to that previously measured using high internal Cl−. This is expected to have implications for neuronal network excitability and neurodevelopment, and for our understanding of pathological conditions, such as epilepsy and chronic pain, where intracellular Cl− concentrations can be altered.
GABAA receptor; Cl−; synaptic inhibition; IPSC; GABA; ion channel
Oligodendrocytes are the myelin-forming cells of the CNS. They differentiate from oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) that are produced from progenitors throughout life but more actively during the neonatal period and in response to demyelinating insults. An accurate regulation of oligodendrogenesis is required to generate oligodendrocytes during these developmental or repair processes. We hypothesized that this regulation implicates transcription factors, which are expressed by OPCs and/or their progenitors. Ascl1/Mash1 is a proneural transcription factor previously implicated in embryonic oligodendrogenesis and operating in genetic interaction with Olig2, an essential transcriptional regulator in oligodendrocyte development. Herein, we have investigated the contribution of Ascl1 to oligodendrocyte development and remyelination in the postnatal cortex. During the neonatal period, Ascl1 expression was detected in progenitors of the cortical subventricular zone and in cortical OPCs. Different genetic approaches to delete Ascl1 in cortical progenitors or OPCs reduced neonatal oligodendrogenesis, showing that Ascl1 positively regulated both OPC specification from subventricular zone progenitors as well as the balance between OPC differentiation and proliferation. Examination of remyelination processes, both in the mouse model for focal demyelination of the corpus callosum and in multiple sclerosis lesions in humans, indicated that Ascl1 activity was upregulated along with increased oligodendrogenesis observed in remyelinating lesions. Additional genetic evidence indicated that remyelinating oligodendrocytes derived from Ascl1+ progenitors/OPCs and that Ascl1 was required for proper remyelination. Together, our results show that Ascl1 function modulates multiplesteps of OPC development in the postnatal brain and in response to demyelinating insults.
The expression and contribution of mu (MOPR) and delta opioid receptors (DOPR) in polymodal nociceptors have been recently challenged. Indeed, MOPR and DOPR were shown to be expressed in distinct subpopulation of nociceptors where they respectively inhibit pain induced by noxious heat and mechanical stimuli. In the present study, we used electrophysiological measurements to assess the effect of spinal MOPR and DOPR activation on heat- and mechanically-induced diffuse noxious inhibitory controls (DNIC). We recorded from wide-dynamic range neurons in the spinal trigeminal nucleus of anesthetized rats. Trains of 105 electrical shocks were delivered to the excitatory cutaneous receptive field. DNIC were triggered either by immersion of the hindpaw in 49°C water or application of 300 g of mechanical pressure. To study the involvement of peptidergic primary afferents in the activation of DNIC by noxious heat and mechanical stimulations, substance P release was measured in the spinal cord by visualizing neurokinin type 1 (NK1) receptor internalization. We found that the activation of spinal MOPR and DOPR similarly attenuates the DNIC and NK1 receptor internalization induced either by heat or mechanical stimuli. Our results therefore reveal that the activation of spinal MOPR and DOPR relieves both heat- and mechanically-induced pain with similar potency and suggest that these receptors are expressed on polymodal, substance P-expressing neurons.
PMID: 23843537 CAMSID: cams3742
Mu opioid receptor (MOPR); Delta opioid receptor (DOPR); Diffuse noxious inhibitory controls (DNIC); Neurokinin 1 (NK1) receptor internalization; heat-induced pain; mechanical pain; polymodal nociceptors
Sensory stimuli acquire significance through learning. A neutral sensory stimulus can become a fearful conditioned stimulus (CS) through conditioning. Here we report that the sensory pathways used to detect the CS depend on the conditioning paradigm. Animals trained to detect an electrical somatosensory stimulus delivered to the whisker pad in an active avoidance task were able to detect this CS and perform the task when a reversible or irreversible lesion was placed in either the somatosensory thalamus or the superior colliculus contralateral to the CS. However, simultaneous lesions of the somatosensory thalamus and superior colliculus contralateral to the CS blocked performance in the active a lesion only of the somatosensory thalamus contralateral to the same CS, but not of the superior colliculus, blocked performance in a pavlovian fear conditioning task. In conclusion, during pavlovian fear conditioning, which is a situation in which the aversive outcome is not contingent on the behavior of the animal, the sensory thalamus is a critical relay for the detection of the CS. During active avoidance conditioning, a situation in which the aversive outcome is contingent on the behavior of the animal (i.e., the animal can avoid the aversive event), the sensory thalamus and the superior colliculus function as alternative routes for CS detection. Thus, even from early stages of sensory processing, the neural signals representing a CS are highly distributed in parallel and redundant sensory circuits, each of which can accomplish CS detection effectively depending on the conditioned behavior.
thalamus; superior colliculus; sensory processing; fear; classical conditioning; operant conditioning
Cytoplasmic dynein is a multi-subunit protein complex in which each subunit is encoded by a few genes. How these subunit isoforms are assembled and regulated to mediate the diverse functions of cytoplasmic dynein is unknown. We previously have shown that two highly conserved 14 kDa dynein light chains, Tctex-1 and RP3, have different cargo-binding abilities. In this report, coimmunoprecipitation revealed that Tctex-1 and RP3 were present in mutually exclusive dynein complexes of brain. Two specific antibodies were used to examine the localization of these two dynein light chains in adult rat hippocampal formation and cerebral cortex. By light microscopy, Tctex-1 and RP3 immunoreactivities exhibited distinct and almost complementary distribution patterns in both brain regions. In hippocampal formation, Tctex-1 immunoreactivity was most enriched in somata of newly generated granule cells and scant in the mature granule and pyramidal cell somata. In contrast, RP3 immunoreactivity was abundant in pyramidal and granule cell somata. Ultrastructural analysis of the dentate gyrus revealed both dynein light chains were associated with various membranous organelles that often were affiliated with microtubules. In addition, Tctex-1 and RP3 immunoreactivities were preferentially and highly enriched on membranous organelles and/or vesicles of axon terminals and dendritic spines, respectively. These results suggest that dynein complexes with different subunit composition, and possibly function, are expressed differentially in a spatially and temporally regulated manner. Furthermore, Tctex-1 and RP3 may play important roles in synaptic functions.
cytoplasmic dynein light chain; Tctex-1; RP3; hippocampus; newly born neuron; synaptic terminal
The neurotrophin nerve growth factor (NGF) regulates neuronal growth, differentiation, and survival during development. However, the precursor of NGF, proNGF, is a potent apoptotic ligand for the p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75NTR)–sortilin complex. The mechanisms that regulate cleavage of proNGF, therefore, are critical determinants of whether this factor promotes neuronal survival or death. In this study, we demonstrate that, following kainic acid-induced seizures, the proNGF processing enzyme matrix metalloproteinase 7 (MMP-7) and its inhibitor TIMP-1 (tissue inhibitor of matrix metalloproteinase 1) are regulated in a manner that prevents proneurotrophin cleavage and leads to increased proNGF in the extracellular milieu. Furthermore, we demonstrate both in vitro and in vivo that exogenous MMP-7 enhances proNGF cleavage and provides neuroprotection following kainic acid treatment. These data demonstrate that increased extracellular proNGF levels following seizures are stabilized by altered MMP-7 enzymatic activity, leading to increased neuronal death via activation of p75NTR.
The syntaxin-interacting protein tomosyn is thought to be a key regulator of exocytosis, although its precise mechanism of action has yet to be elucidated. Here we examined the role of tomosyn in peptide secretion in Caenorhabditis elegans tomosyn (tom-1) mutants. Ultrastructural analysis of tom-1 mutants revealed a 50% reduction in presynaptic dense-core vesicles (DCVs) corresponding to enhanced neuropeptide release. Conversely, overexpression of TOM-1 led to an accumulation of DCVs. Together, these data provide the first in vivo evidence that TOM-1 negatively regulates DCV exocytosis. In C. elegans, neuropeptide release is promoted by the calcium-dependent activator protein for secretion (CAPS) homolog UNC-31. To test for a genetic interaction between tomosyn and CAPS, we generated tom-1;unc-31 double mutants. Loss of TOM-1 suppressed the behavioral, electrophysiological, and DCV ultrastructural phenotypes of unc-31 mutants, indicating that TOM-1 antagonizes UNC-31-dependent DCV release. Because unc-31 mutants exhibit synaptic transmission defects, we postulated that loss of DCV release in these mutants and the subsequent suppression by tom-1 mutants could simply reflect alterations in synaptic activity, rather than direct regulation of DCV release. To distinguish between these two possibilities, we analyzed C. elegans Rim mutants (unc-10), which have a comparable reduction in synaptic transmission to unc-31 mutants, specifically attributed to defects in synaptic vesicle (SV) exocytosis. Based on this analysis, we conclude that the changes in DCV release in tom-1 and unc-31 mutants reflect direct effects of TOM-1 and UNC-31 on DCV exocytosis, rather than altered SV release.
tomosyn; CAPS; C. elegans; peptidergic transmission; neuromuscular junction; UNC-31; TOM-1
Synaptic vesicles undergo a maturation step, termed priming, in which they become competent to fuse with the plasma membrane. To morphologically define the site of vesicle priming and identify fusion-competent synaptic vesicles, we combined a rapid physical-fixation technique with immunogold staining and high-resolution morphometric analysis at Caenorhabditis elegans neuromuscular junctions. In these presynaptic terminals, a subset of synaptic vesicles contact the plasma membrane within ~100 nm of a presynaptic dense projection. UNC-13, a protein required for vesicle priming, localizes to this same region of the plasma membrane. In an unc-13 null mutant, few synaptic vesicles contact the plasma membrane, suggesting that membrane-contacting synaptic vesicles represent the morphological correlates of primed vesicles. Interestingly, a subpopulation of membrane-contacting vesicles, located within 30 nm of a dense projection, are unperturbed in unc-13 mutants. We show that UNC-10/Rim, a protein implicated in presynaptic plasticity, localizes to dense projections and that loss of UNC-10/Rim causes an UNC-13-independent reduction in membrane-contacting synaptic vesicles within 30 nm of the dense projections. Our data together identify a discrete domain for vesicle priming within 100 nm of dense projections and further suggest that UNC-10/Rim and UNC-13 separately contribute to the membrane localization of synaptic vesicles within this domain.
C. elegans; neuromuscular junction; exocytosis; postembedding immunogold labeling; high-pressure freezing; electron microscopy
Dopamine neurons of the ventral midbrain have been found to signal a reward prediction error that can mediate positive reinforcement. Despite the demonstration of modest diversity at the cellular and molecular levels, there has been little analysis of response diversity in behaving animals. Here we examine response diversity in rhesus macaques to appetitive, aversive, and neutral stimuli having relative motivational values that were measured and controlled through a choice task. First, consistent with previous studies, we observed a continuum of response variability and an apparent absence of distinct clusters in scatter plots, suggesting a lack of statistically discrete subpopulations of neurons. Second, we found that a group of “sensitive” neurons tend to be more strongly suppressed by a variety of stimuli and to be more strongly activated by juice. Third, neurons in the “ventral tier” of substantia nigra were found to have greater suppression, and a subset of these had higher baseline firing rates and late “rebound” activation after suppression. These neurons could belong to a previously identified subgroup of dopamine neurons that express high levels of H-type cation channels but lack calbindin. Fourth, neurons further rostral exhibited greater suppression. Fifth, although we observed weak activation of some neurons by aversive stimuli, this was not associated with their aversiveness. In conclusion, we find a diversity of response properties, distributed along a continuum, within what may be a single functional population of neurons signaling reward prediction error.
The transient response of dopamine neurons has been described as reward
prediction error (RPE), with activation or suppression by events that are better
or worse than expected, respectively. However, at least a minority of neurons
are activated by aversive or high-intensity stimuli, casting doubt on the
generality of RPE in describing the dopamine signal. To overcome limitations of
previous studies, we studied neuronal responses to a wider variety of
high-intensity and aversive stimuli, and we quantified and controlled
aversiveness through a choice task in which macaques sacrificed juice to avoid
aversive stimuli. Whereas most previous work has portrayed the RPE as a single
impulse or “phase,” here we demonstrate its multiphasic temporal
dynamics. Aversive or high-intensity stimuli evoked a triphasic sequence of
activation-suppression-activation extending over a period of 40–700 ms.
The initial activation at short latencies (40–120 ms) reflected sensory
intensity.The influence of motivational value became dominant between 150 and
250 ms, with activation in the case of appetitive stimuli, and suppression in
the case of aversive and neutral stimuli. The previously unreported late
activation appeared to be a modest “rebound” after strong
suppression. Similarly, strong activation by reward was often followed by
suppression. We suggest that these “rebounds” may result from
overcompensation by homeostatic mechanisms in some cells. Our results are
consistent with a realistic RPE, which evolves over time through a dynamic
balance of excitation and inhibition
Orexin/hypocretin neurons have a crucial role in the regulation of sleep and wakefulness. To help determine how these neurons promote wakefulness, we generated transgenic mice in which orexin neurons expressed halorhodopsin (orexin/Halo mice), an orange light-activated neuronal silencer. Slice patch-clamp recordings of orexin neurons that expressed halorhodopsin demonstrated that orange light photic illumination immediately hyperpolarized membrane potential and inhibited orexin neuron discharge in proportion to illumination intensity. Acute silencing of orexin neurons in vivo during the day (the inactive period) induced synchronization of the electroencephalogram and a reduction in amplitude of the electromyogram that is characteristic of slow-wave sleep (SWS). In contrast, orexin neuron photoinhibition was ineffective during the night (active period). Acute photoinhibition of orexin neurons during the day in orexin/Halo mice also reduced discharge of neurons in an orexin terminal field, the dorsal raphe (DR) nucleus. However, serotonergic DR neurons exhibited normal discharge rates in mice lacking orexin neurons. Thus, although usually highly dependent on orexin neuronal activity, serotonergic DR neuronal activity can be regulated appropriately in the chronic absence of orexin input. Together, these results demonstrate that acute inhibition of orexin neurons results in time-of-day-dependent induction of SWS and in reduced firing rate of neurons in an efferent projection site thought to be involved in arousal state regulation. The results presented here advance our understanding of the role of orexin neurons in the regulation of sleep/wakefulness and may be relevant to the mechanisms that underlie symptom progression in narcolepsy.
The absence of thyroid hormone (TH) during late gestation and early infancy can cause irreparable deafness in both humans and rodents. A variety of rodent models have been utilized in an effort to identify the underlying molecular mechanism. Here, we characterize a mouse model of secondary hypothyroidism, pituitary transcription factor 1 (Pit1dw), which has profound, congenital deafness that is rescued by oral TH replacement. These mutants have tectorial membrane abnormalities, including a prominent Hensen's stripe, elevated β-tectorin composition, and disrupted striated-sheet matrix. They lack distortion product otoacoustic emissions and cochlear microphonic responses, and exhibit reduced endocochlear potentials, suggesting defects in outer hair cell function and potassium recycling. Auditory system and hair cell physiology, histology and anatomy studies reveal novel defects of hormone deficiency related to deafness: (1) permanently impaired expression of KCNJ10 in the stria vascularis of Pit1dw mice, which likely contributes to the reduced endocochlear potential, (2) significant outer hair cell loss in the mutants, which may result from cellular stress induced by the lower KCNQ4 expression and current levels in Pit1dw mutant outer hair cells and (3) sensory and strial cell deterioration, which may have implications for thyroid hormone dysregulation in age related hearing impairment. In summary, we suggest that these defects in outer hair cell and strial cell function are important contributors to the hearing impairment in Pit1dw mice.
Secondary hypothyroidism; tectorial membrane; KCNQ1; KCNQ4; KCNJ10; prestin; POU1F1
Afferent nerve fibers in the central zones of vestibular epithelia form calyceal endings around type I hair cells and have phasic response properties that emphasize fast head motions. We investigated how stages from hair-cell transduction to calyceal spiking contribute tuning and timing to central (striolar)-zone afferents of the rat saccular epithelium. In an excised preparation, we deflected individual hair bundles with rigid probes driven with steps and sinusoids (0.5–500 Hz) and recorded whole-cell responses from hair cells and calyces at room temperature and body temperature. In immature hair cells and calyces (postnatal days, P, 1–4), tuning sharpened at each stage. Transducer adaptation and membrane charging time produced bandpass filtering of the receptor potential with best frequencies of 10–30 Hz and phase leads below 10 Hz. For small stimuli, electrical resonances sharply tuned the hair cell membrane in the frequency range 5–40 Hz. The synaptic delay of quantal transmission added a phase lag above 10 Hz. The influence of spike thresholds at the calyceal spike initiation stage sharpened tuning and advanced response phase. Two additional mechanisms strongly advanced response phase above 10 Hz when present: maturing (P7-9) type I hair cells acquired low-voltage-activated channels that shortened the rise time of the receptor potential, and some calyces had non-quantal transmission with little synaptic delay. By reducing response time, the identified inner-ear mechanisms (transducer adaptation, low-voltage-activated channels, non-quantal transmission, and spike triggering) may compensate for transmission delays in vestibular reflex pathways and help stabilize posture and gaze during rapid head motions.
A major tool in understanding how the brain processes information is the analysis of neuronal output at each hierarchical level along the pathway of signal propagation. Theta rhythm and head directionality are the two main signals found across all levels of Papez’s circuit, which supports episodic memory formation. Here, we provide evidence that the functional interaction between both signals occurs at a subcortical level. We show that there is population of head-direction cells (39%) in rat anteroventral thalamic nucleus which exhibit rhythmic spiking in the theta range. This class of units, termed head-direction by theta (HD-by-theta) cells, discharged predominantly in spike trains at theta frequency (6-12Hz). The highest degree of theta rhythmicity was evident when the animal was heading/facing in the preferred direction, expressed by the Gaussian peak of the directional tuning curve. The theta-rhythmic mode of spiking was closely related to the firing activity of local theta-bursting cells. We also found that 32% of anteroventral theta-bursting cells displayed a head-directional modulation of their spiking. This crossover between theta and head-directional signals indicates that anterior thalamus integrates information related to heading and movement, and may therefore actively modulate hippocampo-dencephalic information processing.