Ryanodine is a positive modulator of acetylcholine receptor gating in cochlear hair cells.
ABSTRACT: The efferent synaptic specialization of hair cells includes a near-membrane synaptic cistern, whose presence suggests a role for internal calcium stores in cholinergic inhibition. Calcium release channels from internal stores include 'ryanodine receptors', whose participation is usually demonstrated by sensitivity to the eponymous plant alkaloid, ryanodine. However, use of this and other store-active compounds on hair cells could be confounded by the unusual pharmacology of the alpha9alpha10-containing hair cell nicotinic cholinergic receptor (nAChR), which has been shown to be antagonized by a broad spectrum of compounds. Surprisingly, we found that ryanodine, rather than antagonizing, is a positive modulator of the alpha9alpha10 nAChR expressed in Xenopus oocytes, the first such compound to be found. The effect of ryanodine was to increase the apparent affinity and efficacy for acetylcholine (ACh). Correspondingly, ACh-evoked currents through the isolated cholinergic receptors of inner hair cells in excised mouse cochleas were approximately doubled by 200 microM ryanodine, a concentration that inhibits gating of the ryanodine receptor itself. This unusual positive modulation was not unique to the mammalian receptor. The response to ACh of chicken 'short' hair cells likewise was enhanced in the presence of 100 microM ryanodine. This facilitatory effect on current through the AChR could enhance brief ( approximately 1 s) activation of associated calcium-dependent K(+) (SK) channels in both chicken short hair cells and rat outer hair cells. This novel effect of ryanodine provides new opportunities for the design of compounds that potentiate alpha9alpha10-mediated responses and for potential inner ear therapeutics based on this interaction.
Project description:We report the cloning and characterization of rat alpha10, a previously unidentified member of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunit gene family. The protein encoded by the alpha10 nAChR subunit gene is most similar to the rat alpha9 nAChR, and both alpha9 and alpha10 subunit genes are transcribed in adult rat mechanosensory hair cells. Injection of Xenopus laevis oocytes with alpha10 cRNA alone or in pairwise combinations with either alpha2-alpha6 or beta2-beta4 subunit cRNAs yielded no detectable ACh-gated currents. However, coinjection of alpha9 and alpha10 cRNAs resulted in the appearance of an unusual nAChR subtype. Compared with homomeric alpha9 channels, the alpha9alpha10 nAChR subtype displays faster and more extensive agonist-mediated desensitization, a distinct current-voltage relationship, and a biphasic response to changes in extracellular Ca(2+) ions. The pharmacological profiles of homomeric alpha9 and heteromeric alpha9alpha10 nAChRs are essentially indistinguishable and closely resemble those reported for endogenous cholinergic eceptors found in vertebrate hair cells. Our data suggest that efferent modulation of hair cell function occurs, at least in part, through heteromeric nAChRs assembled from both alpha9 and alpha10 subunits.
Project description:Cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) release neurotransmitter onto afferent auditory nerve fibers in response to sound stimulation. During early development, synaptic transmission is triggered by spontaneous Ca2+ spikes which are modulated by an efferent cholinergic innervation to IHCs. This synapse is inhibitory and mediated by the alpha9alpha10 nicotinic cholinergic receptor (nAChR). After the onset of hearing, large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels are acquired and both the spiking activity and the efferent innervation disappear from IHCs. In this work, we studied the developmental changes in the membrane properties of cochlear IHCs from alpha10 nAChR gene (Chrna10) "knockout" mice. Electrophysiological properties of IHCs were studied by whole-cell recordings in acutely excised apical turns of the organ of Corti from developing mice. Neither the spiking activity nor the developmental functional expression of voltage-gated and/or calcium-sensitive K+ channels is altered in the absence of the alpha10 nAChR subunit. The present results show that the alpha10 nAChR subunit is not essential for the correct establishment of the intrinsic electrical properties of IHCs during development.
Project description:Cochlear hair cells use SK2 currents to shape responses to cholinergic efferent feedback from the brain. Using SK2(-/-) mice, we demonstrate that, in addition to their previously defined role in modulating hair cell membrane potentials, SK2 channels are necessary for long-term survival of olivocochlear fibers and synapses. Loss of the SK2 gene also results in loss of electrically driven olivocochlear effects in vivo, and down regulation of ryanodine receptors involved in calcium-induced calcium release, the main inducer of nAChR evoked SK2 activity. Generation of double-null mice lacking both the alpha10 nAChR gene, loss of which results in hypertrophied olivocochlear terminals, and the SK2 gene, recapitulates the SK2(-/-) synaptic phenotype and gene expression, and also leads to down regulation of alpha9 nAChR gene expression. The data suggest a hierarchy of activity necessary to maintain early olivocochlear synapses at their targets, with SK2 serving an epistatic, upstream, role to the nAChRs.
Project description:In turtle posterior cristae, cholinergic vestibular efferent neurons (VENs) synapse on type II hair cells, bouton afferents innervating type II hair cells, and afferent calyces innervating type I hair cells. Electrical stimulation of VENs releases acetylcholine (ACh) at these synapses to exert diverse effects on afferent background discharge including rapid inhibition of bouton afferents and excitation of calyx-bearing afferents. Efferent-mediated inhibition is most pronounced in bouton afferents innervating type II hair cells near the torus, but becomes progressively smaller and briefer when moving longitudinally through the crista toward afferents innervating the planum. Sharp-electrode recordings have inferred that efferent-mediated inhibition of bouton afferents requires the sequential activation of alpha9-containing nicotinic ACh receptors (?9*nAChRs) and small-conductance, calcium-dependent potassium channels (SK) in type II hair cells. Gradations in the strength of efferent-mediated inhibition across the crista likely reflect variations in ?9*nAChRs and/or SK activation in type II hair cells from those different regions. However, in turtle cristae, neither inference has been confirmed with direct recordings from type II hair cells. To address these gaps, we performed whole-cell, patch-clamp recordings from type II hair cells within a split-epithelial preparation of the turtle posterior crista. Here, we can easily visualize and record hair cells while maintaining their native location within the neuroepithelium. Consistent with ?9*nAChR/SK activation, ACh-sensitive currents in type II hair cells were inward at hyperpolarizing potentials but reversed near -90 mV to produce outward currents that typically peaked around -20 mV. ACh-sensitive currents were largest in torus hair cells but absent from hair cells near the planum. In current clamp recordings under zero-current conditions, ACh robustly hyperpolarized type II hair cells. ACh-sensitive responses were reversibly blocked by the ?9nAChR antagonists ICS, strychnine, and methyllycaconitine as well as the SK antagonists apamin and UCL1684. Intact efferent terminals in the split-epithelial preparation spontaneously released ACh that also activated ?9*nAChRs/SK in type II hair cells. These release events were accelerated with high-potassium external solution and all events were blocked by strychnine, ICS, methyllycaconitine, and apamin. These findings provide direct evidence that activation of ?9*nAChR/SK in turtle type II hair cells underlies efferent-mediated inhibition of bouton afferents.
Project description:Acetylcholine (ACh) is a major retinal neurotransmitter that modulates visual processing through a large repertoire of cholinergic receptors expressed on different retinal cell types. ACh is released from starburst amacrine cells (SACs) under scotopic conditions, but its effects on cells of the rod pathway have not been investigated. Using whole-cell patch clamp recordings in slices of rat retina, we found that ACh application triggers GABA release onto rod bipolar (RB) cells. GABA was released from A17 amacrine cells and activated postsynaptic GABAA and GABAC receptors in RB cells. The sensitivity of ACh-induced currents to nicotinic ACh receptor (nAChR) antagonists (TMPH ~ mecamylamine > erysodine > Dh?E > MLA) together with the differential potency of specific agonists to mimic ACh responses (cytisine >> RJR2403 ~ choline), suggest that A17 cells express heteromeric nAChRs containing the ?4 subunit. Activation of nAChRs induced GABA release after Ca(2+) accumulation in A17 cell dendrites and varicosities mediated by L-type voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) and intracellular Ca(2+) stores. Inhibition of acetylcholinesterase depolarized A17 cells and increased spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents in RB cells, indicating that endogenous ACh enhances GABAergic inhibition of RB cells. Moreover, injection of neostigmine or cytisine reduced the b-wave of the scotopic flash electroretinogram (ERG), suggesting that cholinergic modulation of GABA release controls RB cell activity in vivo. These results describe a novel regulatory mechanism of RB cell inhibition and complement our understanding of the neuromodulatory control of retinal signal processing.
Project description:We have performed a systematic mutagenesis of three hydrophobic rings (17', 13' and 9') within transmembrane region (TM) 2 of the alpha9alpha10 nicotinic cholinergic receptor (nAChR) to a hydrophilic (threonine) residue and compared the properties of mutant receptors reconstituted in Xenopus laevis oocytes. Phenotypic changes in alpha9alpha10 mutant receptors were evidenced by a decrease in the desensitization rate, an increase in both the EC(50) for ACh as well as the efficacy of partial agonists and the reduction of the allosteric modulation by extracellular Ca(2+). Mutated receptors exhibited spontaneous openings and, at the single-channel level, an increased apparent mean open time with no major changes in channel conductance, thus suggesting an increase in gating of the channel as the underlying mechanism. Overall, the degrees of the phenotypes of mutant receptors were more overt in the case of the centrally located V13'T mutant. Based on the atomic model of the pore of the electric organ of the Torpedo ray, we can propose that the interactions of side chains at positions 13' and 9' are key ones in creating an energetic barrier to ion permeation. In spite of the fact that the roles of the TM2 residues are mostly conserved in the distant alpha9alpha10 member of the nAChR family, their mechanistic contributions to channel gating show significant differences when compared to other nAChRs. These differences might be originated from slight differential intramolecular rearrangements during gating for the different receptors and might lead each nAChR to be in tune with their physiological roles.
Project description:Although homomeric channels assembled from the alpha9 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunit are functional in vitro, electrophysiological, anatomical, and molecular data suggest that native cholinergic olivocochlear function is mediated via heteromeric nAChRs composed of both alpha9 and alpha10 subunits. To gain insight into alpha10 subunit function in vivo, we examined olivo cochlear innervation and function in alpha10 null-mutant mice. Electrophysiological recordings from postnatal (P) days P8-9 inner hair cells revealed ACh-gated currents in alpha10(+/+) and alpha10(+/-) mice, with no detectable responses to ACh in alpha10(-/-) mice. In contrast, a proportion of alpha10(-/-) outer hair cells showed small ACh-evoked currents. In alpha10(-/-) mutant mice, olivocochlear fiber stimulation failed to suppress distortion products, suggesting that the residual alpha9 homomeric nAChRs expressed by outer hair cells are unable to transduce efferent signals in vivo. Finally, alpha10(-/-) mice exhibit both an abnormal olivocochlear morphology and innervation to outer hair cells and a highly disorganized efferent innervation to the inner hair cell region. Our results demonstrate that alpha9(-/-) and alpha10(-/-) mice have overlapping but nonidentical phenotypes. Moreover, alpha10 nAChR subunits are required for normal olivocochlear activity because alpha9 homomeric nAChRs do not support maintenance of normal olivocochlear innervation or function in alpha10(-/-) mutant mice.
Project description:In the mammalian vestibular periphery, electrical activation of the efferent vestibular system (EVS) has two effects on afferent activity: 1) it increases background afferent discharge and 2) decreases afferent sensitivity to rotational stimuli. Although the cellular mechanisms underlying these two contrasting afferent responses remain obscure, we postulated that the reduction in afferent sensitivity was attributed, in part, to the activation of ?9- containing nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptors (?9*nAChRs) and small-conductance potassium channels (SK) in vestibular type II hair cells, as demonstrated in the peripheral vestibular system of other vertebrates. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effects of the predominant EVS neurotransmitter ACh on vestibular type II hair cells from wild-type (wt) and ?9-subunit nAChR knockout (?9-/-) mice. Immunostaining for choline acetyltransferase revealed there were no obvious gross morphological differences in the peripheral EVS innervation among any of these strains. ACh application onto wt type II hair cells, at resting potentials, produced a fast inward current followed by a slower outward current, resulting in membrane hyperpolarization and decreased membrane resistance. Hyperpolarization and decreased resistance were due to gating of SK channels. Consistent with activation of ?9*nAChRs and SK channels, these ACh-sensitive currents were antagonized by the ?9*nAChR blocker strychnine and SK blockers apamin and tamapin. Type II hair cells from ?9-/- mice, however, failed to respond to ACh at all. These results confirm the critical importance of ?9nAChRs in efferent modulation of mammalian type II vestibular hair cells. Application of exogenous ACh reduces electrical impedance, thereby decreasing type II hair cell sensitivity. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Expression of ?9 nicotinic subunit was crucial for fast cholinergic modulation of mammalian vestibular type II hair cells. These findings show a multifaceted efferent mechanism for altering hair cell membrane potential and decreasing membrane resistance that should reduce sensitivity to hair bundle displacements.
Project description:Vc1.1 is a disulfide-rich peptide inhibitor of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors that has stimulated considerable interest in these receptors as potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of neuropathic pain. Here we present an extensive series of mutational studies in which all residues except the conserved cysteines were mutated separately to Ala, Asp, or Lys. The effect on acetylcholine (ACh)-evoked membrane currents at the alpha9alpha10 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR), which has been implicated as a target in the alleviation of neuropathic pain, was then observed. The analogs were characterized by NMR spectroscopy to determine the effects of mutations on structure. The structural fold was found to be preserved in all peptides except where Pro was substituted. Electrophysiological studies showed that the key residues for functional activity are Asp(5)-Arg(7) and Asp(11)-Ile(15), because changes at these positions resulted in the loss of activity at the alpha9alpha10 nAChR. Interestingly, the S4K and N9A analogs were more potent than Vc1.1 itself. A second generation of mutants was synthesized, namely N9G, N9I, N9L, S4R, and S4K+N9A, all of which were more potent than Vc1.1 at both the rat alpha9alpha10 and the human alpha9/rat alpha10 hybrid receptor, providing a mechanistic insight into the key residues involved in eliciting the biological function of Vc1.1. The most potent analogs were also tested at the alpha3beta2, alpha3beta4, and alpha7 nAChR subtypes to determine their selectivity. All mutants tested were most selective for the alpha9alpha10 nAChR. These findings provide valuable insight into the interaction of Vc1.1 with the alpha9alpha10 nAChR subtype and will help in the further development of analogs of Vc1.1 as analgesic drugs.
Project description:Acetylcholine (ACh) is the major neurotransmitter released from vestibular efferent terminals onto hair cells and afferents. Previous studies indicate that the two classes of acetylcholine receptors, nicotinic (nAChRs) and muscarinic receptors (mAChRs), are expressed by vestibular hair cells (VHCs). To identify if both classes of receptors are present in VHCs, whole cell, voltage-clamp- and current-clamp-patch recordings were performed on isolated pigeon vestibular type I and type II HCs during the application of the cholinergic agonists, acetylcholine and carbachol, and the cholinergic antagonists, D-tubocurarine and atropine. By applying in different combinations, these compounds were used to selectively activate either nAChRs or mAChRs. The effects of nAChR and mAChR activation on HC currents and zero electrode current potential (V(z)) were monitored. It was found that presumed mAChR activation decreased both inward and outward currents in both type I and type II HCs, resulting in either a depolarization or hyperpolarization. Conversely, nAChR activation mainly increased both inward and outward currents in type II HCs, resulting in a hyperpolarization of their V(z). nAChR activation also increased outward currents in type I HCs resulting in either a depolarization or hyperpolarization of their V(z). The decrease of inward and outward currents and the depolarization of the V(z) in type I pigeon HCs by activation of mAChRs represents a new finding. Ion channel candidates in pigeon vestibular HCs that might underlie the modulation of the macroscopic ionic currents and V(z) by different AChR activation are discussed.