Specificity of afferent synapses onto plane-polarized hair cells in the posterior lateral line of the zebrafish.
ABSTRACT: The proper wiring of the vertebrate brain represents an extraordinary developmental challenge, requiring billions of neurons to select their appropriate synaptic targets. In view of this complexity, simple vertebrate systems provide necessary models for understanding how synaptic specificity arises. The posterior lateral-line organ of larval zebrafish consists of polarized hair cells organized in discrete clusters known as neuromasts. Here we show that each afferent neuron of the posterior lateral line establishes specific contacts with hair cells of the same hair-bundle polarity. We quantify this specificity by modeling the neuron as a biased selector of hair-cell polarity and find evidence for bias from as early as 2.5 d after fertilization. More than half of the neurons form contacts on multiple neuromasts, but the innervated organs are spatially consecutive and the polarity preference is consistent. Using a novel reagent for correlative electron microscopy, HRP-mCherry, we show that these contacts are indeed afferent synapses bearing vesicle-loaded synaptic ribbons. Moreover, afferent neurons reassume their biased innervation pattern after hair-cell ablation and regeneration. By documenting specificity in the pattern of neuronal connectivity during development and in the context of organ regeneration, these results establish the posterior lateral-line organ as a vertebrate system for the in vivo study of synaptic target selection.
Project description:The lateral line system is a useful model for studying the embryonic and evolutionary diversification of different organs and cell types. In jawed vertebrates, this ancestrally comprises lines of mechanosensory neuromasts over the head and trunk, flanked on the head by fields of electrosensory ampullary organs, all innervated by lateral line neurons in cranial lateral line ganglia. Both types of sense organs, and their afferent neurons, develop from cranial lateral line placodes. Current research primarily focuses on the posterior lateral line primordium in zebrafish, which migrates as a cell collective along the trunk; epithelial rosettes form in the trailing zone and are deposited as a line of neuromasts, within which hair cells and supporting cells differentiate. However, in at least some other teleosts (e.g. catfishes) and all non-teleosts, lines of cranial neuromasts are formed by placodes that elongate to form a sensory ridge, which subsequently fragments, with neuromasts differentiating in a line along the crest of the ridge. Furthermore, in many non-teleost species, electrosensory ampullary organs develop from the flanks of the sensory ridge. It is unknown to what extent the molecular mechanisms underlying neuromast formation from the zebrafish migrating posterior lateral line primordium are conserved with the as-yet unexplored molecular mechanisms underlying neuromast and ampullary organ formation from elongating lateral line placodes. Here, we report experiments in an electroreceptive non-teleost ray-finned fish, the Mississippi paddlefish Polyodon spathula, that suggest a conserved role for Notch signaling in regulating lateral line organ receptor cell number, but potentially divergent roles for the fibroblast growth factor signaling pathway, both between neuromasts and ampullary organs, and between paddlefish and zebrafish.
Project description:Electroreception is an ancient subdivision of the lateral line sensory system, found in all major vertebrate groups (though lost in frogs, amniotes and most ray-finned fishes). Electroreception is mediated by 'hair cells' in ampullary organs, distributed in fields flanking lines of mechanosensory hair cell-containing neuromasts that detect local water movement. Neuromasts, and afferent neurons for both neuromasts and ampullary organs, develop from lateral line placodes. Although ampullary organs in the axolotl (a representative of the lobe-finned clade of bony fishes) are lateral line placode-derived, non-placodal origins have been proposed for electroreceptors in other taxa. Here we show morphological and molecular data describing lateral line system development in the basal ray-finned fish Polyodon spathula, and present fate-mapping data that conclusively demonstrate a lateral line placode origin for ampullary organs and neuromasts. Together with the axolotl data, this confirms that ampullary organs are ancestrally lateral line placode-derived in bony fishes.
Project description:Hair cells in the inner ear display a characteristic polarization of their apical stereocilia across the plane of the sensory epithelium. This planar orientation allows coherent transduction of mechanical stimuli because the axis of morphological polarity of the stereocilia corresponds to the direction of excitability of the hair cells. Neuromasts of the lateral line in fishes and amphibians form two intermingled populations of hair cells oriented at 180 degrees relative to each other, however, creating a stimulus-polarity ambiguity. Therefore, it is unknown how these animals resolve the vectorial component of a mechanical stimulus. Using genetic mosaics and live imaging in transgenic zebrafish to visualize hair cells and neurons at single-cell resolution, we show that lateral-line afferents can recognize the planar polarization of hair cells. Each neuron forms synapses with hair cells of identical orientation to divide the neuromast into functional planar-polarity compartments. We also show that afferent neurons are strict selectors of polarity that can re-establish synapses with identically oriented targets during hair-cell regeneration. Our results provide the anatomical bases for the physiological models of signal-polarity resolution by the lateral line.
Project description:Tissue morphogenesis and cell sorting are major forces during organ development. Here, we characterize the process of tissue morphogenesis within the zebrafish lateral line primordium, a migratory sheet of cells that gives rise to the neuromasts of the posterior lateral line organ. We find that cells within this epithelial tissue constrict actin-rich membranes and enrich apical junction proteins at apical focal points. The coordinated apical membrane constriction in single Delta D-positive hair cell progenitors and in their neighbouring prospective support cells generates cellular rosettes. Live imaging reveals that cellular rosettes subsequently separate from each other and give rise to individual neuromasts. Genetic analysis uncovers an involvement of Lethal giant larvae proteins in the maturation of apical junction belts during cellular rosette formation. Our findings suggest that apical constriction of cell membranes spatially confines regions of strong cell-cell adhesion and restricts the number of tightly interconnected cells into cellular rosettes, which ensures the correct deposition of neuromasts during morphogenesis of the posterior lateral line organ.
Project description:Vesicle fusion contributes to the maintenance of synapses in the nervous system by mediating synaptic transmission, release of neurotrophic factors, and trafficking of membrane receptors. N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor (NSF) is indispensible for dissociation of the SNARE-complex following vesicle fusion. Although NSF function has been characterized extensively in vitro, the in vivo role of NSF in vertebrate synaptogenesis is relatively unexplored. Zebrafish possess two nsf genes, nsf and nsfb. Here, we examine the function of either Nsf or Nsfb in the pre- and postsynaptic cells of the zebrafish lateral line organ and demonstrate that Nsf, but not Nsfb, is required for maintenance of afferent synapses in hair cells. In addition to peripheral defects in nsf mutants, neurodegeneration of glutamatergic synapses in the central nervous system also occurs in the absence of Nsf function. Expression of an nsf transgene in a null background indicates that stabilization of synapses requires Nsf function in both hair cells and afferent neurons. To identify potential targets of Nsf-mediated fusion, we examined the expression of genes implicated in stabilizing synapses and found that transcripts for multiple genes including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (bdnf) were significantly reduced in nsf mutants. With regard to trafficking of BDNF, we observed a striking accumulation of BDNF in the neurites of nsf mutant afferent neurons. In addition, injection of recombinant BDNF protein partially rescued the degeneration of afferent synapses in nsf mutants. These results establish a role for Nsf in the maintenance of synaptic contacts between hair cells and afferent neurons, mediated in part via the secretion of trophic signaling factors.
Project description:The orientation of hair bundles on top of sensory hair cells (HCs) in neuromasts of the lateral line system allows fish to detect direction of water flow. Each neuromast shows hair bundles arranged in two opposing directions and each afferent neuron innervates only HCs of the same orientation. Previously, we showed that this opposition is established by expression of Emx2 in half of the HCs, where it mediates hair bundle reversal (<xref ref-type="bibr" rid="bib15">Jiang et al., 2017</xref>). Here, we show that Emx2 also regulates neuronal selection: afferent neurons innervate either Emx2-positive or negative HCs. In emx2 knockout and gain-of-function neuromasts, all HCs are unidirectional and the innervation patterns and physiological responses of the afferent neurons are dependent on the presence or absence of Emx2. Our results indicate that Emx2 mediates the directional selectivity of neuromasts by two distinct processes: regulating hair bundle orientation in HCs and selecting afferent neuronal targets.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The lateral line system in zebrafish is composed of a series of organs called neuromasts, which are distributed over the body surface. Neuromasts contain clusters of hair cells, surrounded by accessory cells. RESULTS: In this report we describe zebrafish prox1 mRNA expression in the migrating primordium and in the neuromasts of the posterior lateral line. Furthermore, using an antibody against Prox1 we characterize expression of the protein in different cell types within neuromasts, and we show distribution among the supporting cells and hair cells. CONCLUSION: Functional analysis using antisense morpholinos indicates that prox1 activity is crucial for the hair cells to differentiate properly and acquire functionality, while having no role in development of other cell types in neuromasts.
Project description:The asymmetric location of stereociliary bundle (hair bundle) on the apical surface of mechanosensory hair cells (HCs) dictates the direction in which a given HC can respond to cues such as sound, head movements, and water pressure. Notably, vestibular sensory organs of the inner ear, the maculae, exhibit a line of polarity reversal (LPR) across which, hair bundles are polarized in a mirror-image pattern. Similarly, HCs in neuromasts of the zebrafish lateral line system are generated as pairs, and two sibling HCs develop opposite hair bundle orientations. Within these sensory organs, expression of the transcription factor Emx2 is restricted to only one side of the LPR in the maculae or one of the two sibling HCs in neuromasts. Emx2 mediates hair bundle polarity reversal in these restricted subsets of HCs and generates the mirror-image pattern of the sensory organs. Downstream effectors of Emx2 control bundle polarity cell-autonomously via heterotrimeric G proteins.
Project description:The utricle provides the vestibular reflex pathways with the sensory codes of inertial acceleration of self-motion and head orientation with respect to gravity to control balance and equilibrium. Here we present an anatomical description of this structure in the adult oyster toadfish and establish a morphological basis for interpretation of subsequent functional studies. Light, scanning, and transmission electron microscopy techniques were applied to visualize the sensory epithelium at varying levels of detail, its neural innervation and its synaptic organization. Scanning electron microscopy was used to visualize otolith mass and morphological polarization patterns of hair cells. Afferent nerve fibers were visualized following labeling with biocytin, and light microscope images were used to make three-dimensional (3-D) reconstructions of individual labeled afferents to identify dendritic morphology with respect to epithelial location. Transmission electron micrographs were compiled to create a serial 3-D reconstruction of a labeled afferent over a segment of its dendritic field and to examine the cell-afferent synaptic contacts. Major observations are: a well-defined striola, medial and lateral extra-striolar regions with a zonal organization of hair bundles; prominent lacinia projecting laterally; dependence of hair cell density on macular location; narrow afferent dendritic fields that follow the hair bundle polarization; synaptic specializations issued by afferents are typically directed towards a limited number of 7-13 hair cells, but larger dendritic fields in the medial extra-striola can be associated with?>?20 hair cells also; and hair cell synaptic bodies can be confined to only an individual afferent or can synapse upon several afferents.
Project description:Directional mechanoreception by hair cells is transmitted to the brain via afferent neurons to enable postural control and rheotaxis. Neuronal tuning to individual directions of mechanical flow occurs when each peripheral axon selectively synapses with multiple hair cells of identical planar polarization. How such mechanosensory labeled lines are established and maintained remains unsolved. Here, we use the zebrafish lateral line to reveal that asymmetric activity of the transcription factor Emx2 diversifies hair cell identity to instruct polarity-selective synaptogenesis. Unexpectedly, presynaptic scaffolds and coherent hair cell orientation are dispensable for synaptic selectivity, indicating that epithelial planar polarity and synaptic partner matching are separable. Moreover, regenerating axons recapitulate synapses with hair cells according to Emx2 expression but not global orientation. Our results identify a simple cellular algorithm that solves the selectivity task even in the presence of noise generated by the frequent receptor cell turnover. They also suggest that coupling connectivity patterns to cellular identity rather than polarity relaxes developmental and evolutionary constraints to innervation of organs with differing orientation.