Tonotopic organization of vertical cells in the dorsal cochlear nucleus of the CBA/J mouse.
ABSTRACT: The systematic and topographic representation of frequency is a first principle of organization throughout the auditory system. The dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) receives direct tonotopic projections from the auditory nerve (AN) as well as secondary and descending projections from other sources. Among the recipients of AN input in the DCN are vertical cells (also called tuberculoventral cells), glycinergic interneurons thought to provide on- or near-best-frequency feed-forward inhibition to principal cells in the DCN and various cells in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN). Differing lines of physiological and anatomical evidence suggest that vertical cells and their projections are organized with respect to frequency, but this has not been conclusively demonstrated in the intact mammalian brain. To address this issue, we retrogradely labeled vertical cells via physiologically targeted injections in the AVCN of the CBA/J mouse. Results from multiple cases were merged with a normalized 3D template of the cochlear nucleus (Muniak et al.  J. Comp. Neurol. 521:1510-1532) to demonstrate quantitatively that the arrangement of vertical cells is tonotopic and aligned to the innervation pattern of the AN. These results suggest that vertical cells are well positioned for providing immediate, frequency-specific inhibition onto cells of the DCN and AVCN to facilitate spectral processing.
Project description:Tonotopy is a fundamental organizational feature of the auditory system. Sounds are encoded by the spatial and temporal patterns of electrical activity in spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) and are transmitted via tonotopically ordered processes from the cochlea through the eighth nerve to the cochlear nuclei. Upon reaching the brainstem, SGN axons bifurcate in a stereotyped pattern, innervating target neurons in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus (aVCN) with one branch and in the posteroventral and dorsal cochlear nuclei (pVCN and DCN) with the other. Each branch is tonotopically organized, thereby distributing acoustic information systematically along multiple parallel pathways for processing in the brainstem. In mice with a mutation in the receptor guanylyl cyclase Npr2, this spatial organization is disrupted. Peripheral SGN processes appear normal, but central SGN processes fail to bifurcate and are disorganized as they exit the auditory nerve. Within the cochlear nuclei, the tonotopic organization of the SGN terminal arbors is blurred and the aVCN is underinnervated with a reduced convergence of SGN inputs onto target neurons. The tonotopy of circuitry within the cochlear nuclei is also degraded, as revealed by changes in the topographic mapping of tuberculoventral cell projections from DCN to VCN. Nonetheless, Npr2 mutant SGN axons are able to transmit acoustic information with normal sensitivity and timing, as revealed by auditory brainstem responses and electrophysiological recordings from VCN neurons. Although most features of signal transmission are normal, intermittent failures were observed in responses to trains of shocks, likely due to a failure in action potential conduction at branch points in Npr2 mutant afferent fibers. Our results show that Npr2 is necessary for the precise spatial organization typical of central auditory circuits, but that signals are still transmitted with normal timing, and that mutant mice can hear even with these deficits.
Project description:Potassium channels play a critical role in defining the electrophysiological properties accounting for the unique response patterns of auditory neurons. Serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE), microarrays, RT-PCR, and real-time RT-PCR were used to generate a broad profile of potassium channel expression in the rat cochlear nucleus. This study identified mRNAs for 51 different potassium channel subunits or channel interacting proteins. The relative expression levels of 27 of these transcripts among the AVCN, PVCN, and DCN were determined by real-time RT-PCR. Four potassium channel transcripts showed substantial levels of differential expression. Kcnc2 was expressed more than 15-fold higher in the DCN as compared to AVCN and PVCN. In contrast, Kcnj13 had an approximate 10-fold higher expression in AVCN and PVCN than in DCN. Two subunits that modify the activity of other channels were inversely expressed between ventral and dorsal divisions. Kcns1 was over 15-fold higher in DCN than AVCN or PVCN, while Kcns3 was about 25-fold higher in AVCN than in DCN. The expression patterns of potassium channels in the subdivisions of the cochlear nucleus provide a basis for understanding the electrophysiological mechanisms which sub-serve central auditory processing and provide targets for further investigations into neural plastic changes that occur with hearing loss.
Project description:The cochlear nucleus is the first central pathway involved in the processing of peripheral auditory activity. It is heterogeneous in neuronal populations and physiologic responses and is organized in three major subdivisions: the anterior ventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN), the posterior ventral cochlear nucleus (PVCN) and the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN). Although each region demonstrates multiple cell types and functions, there are predominant populations of neurons in each region that underlie the principal role each subdivision plays in auditory processing. Little is known of the underlying genetic contribution to these properties. This study sought to identify genes expressed in the subdivisions of the cochlear nucleus that may account for the anatomical and physiological characteristics of each subdivision. These data provide a genetic basis for understanding normal auditory processing in the cochlear nucleus and a template for investigating changes that may occur with hearing loss, the generation and percept of tinnitus, and central processing disorders. Keywords: normal, comparative Brown Norway rats (n=40, female, 45days) were anesthetized and decapitated. Brains were rapidly removed and the subdivisions of the cochlear nucleus (AVCN, PVCN and DCN) dissected on dry ice. Total RNA was extracted and tested for concentration and purity by spectrophotometry and integrity by gel electrophoresis. SAGE was performed using the NlaIII enzyme and Invitrogen SAGE kit. Concatemers were commercially sequenced and imported into eSAGE (Margulies and Innis, 2000) for tag extraction and frequency.
Project description:We previously reported that auditory nerve projections from the cochlear spiral ganglion (SG) to the cochlear nucleus (CN) exhibit clear cochleotopic organization in adult cats deafened as neonates before hearing onset. However, the topographic specificity of these CN projections in deafened animals is proportionately broader than normal (less precise relative to the CN frequency gradient). This study examined SG-to-CN projections in adult cats that were deafened as neonates and received a unilateral cochlear implant at approximately 7 weeks of age. Following several months of electrical stimulation, SG projections from the stimulated cochleae were compared to projections from contralateral, non-implanted ears. The fundamental organization of SG projections into frequency band laminae was clearly evident, and discrete projections were always observed following double SG injections in deafened cochleae, despite severe auditory deprivation and/or broad electrical activation of the SG. However, when normalized for the smaller CN size after deafness, AVCN, PVCN, and DCN projections on the stimulated side were broader by 32%, 34%, and 53%, respectively, than projections in normal animals (although absolute projection widths were comparable to normal). Further, there was no significant difference between projections from stimulated and contralateral non-implanted cochleae. These findings suggest that early normal auditory experience may be essential for normal development and/or maintenance of the topographic precision of SG-to-CN projections. After early deafness, the CN is smaller than normal, the topographic distribution of these neural projections that underlie frequency resolution in the central auditory system is proportionately broader, and projections from adjacent SG sectors are more overlapping. Several months of stimulation by a cochlear implant (beginning at approximately 7 weeks of age) did not lessen or exacerbate these degenerative changes observed in adulthood. One clinical implication of these findings is that congenitally deaf cochlear implant recipients may have central auditory system alterations that limit their ability to achieve spectral selectivity equivalent to post-lingually deafened subjects.
Project description:The dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) is a first relay of the central auditory system as well as a site for integration of multimodal information. Vesicular glutamate transporters VGLUT-1 and VGLUT-2 selectively package glutamate into synaptic vesicles and are found to have different patterns of organization in the DCN. Whereas auditory nerve fibers predominantly co-label with VGLUT-1, somatosensory inputs predominantly co-label with VGLUT-2. Here, we used retrograde and anterograde transport of fluorescent conjugated dextran amine (DA) to demonstrate that the lateral vestibular nucleus (LVN) exhibits ipsilateral projections to both fusiform and deep layers of the rat DCN. Stimulating the LVN induced glutamatergic synaptic currents in fusiform cells and granule cell interneurones. We combined the dextran amine neuronal tracing method with immunohistochemistry and showed that labeled projections from the LVN are co-labeled with VGLUT-2 by contrast to VGLUT-1. Wistar rats were exposed to a loud single tone (15 kHz, 110 dB SPL) for 6 hours. Five days after acoustic overexposure, the level of expression of VGLUT-1 in the DCN was decreased whereas the level of expression of VGLUT-2 in the DCN was increased including terminals originating from the LVN. VGLUT-2 mediated projections from the LVN to the DCN are likely to play a role in the head position in response to sound. Amplification of VGLUT-2 expression after acoustic overexposure could be a compensatory mechanism from vestibular inputs in response to hearing loss and to a decrease of VGLUT-1 expression from auditory nerve fibers.
Project description:The espins are Ca(2+)-resistant actin-bundling proteins that are enriched in hair cell stereocilia and sensory cell microvilli. Here, we report a novel localization of espins to a large proportion of rat type I spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) and their projections to the cochlear nucleus (CN). Moreover, we show that a fraction of these espins is in the nucleus of SGNs owing to the presence of splice-isoforms that contain a functional nuclear localization signal (NLS). Espin antibody labeled approximately 83% of type I SGNs, and the labeling intensity increased dramatically during early postnatal development. Type II SGNs and vestibular ganglion neurons were unlabeled. In the CN, espin-positive auditory nerve fibers showed a projection pattern typical of type I SGNs, with intense labeling in the nerve root region and posteroventral CN (PVCN). The anteroventral CN (AVCN) showed moderate labeling, whereas the dorsal CN showed weak labeling that was restricted to the deep layer. Espin-positive synaptic terminals were enriched around nerve root neurons and octopus cells in the PVCN and were also found on globular bushy cells and multipolar neurons in the PVCN and AVCN. SGNs expressed multiple espin transcripts and proteins, including splice-isoforms that contain a nonapeptide, which is rich in positively charged amino acids and creates a bipartite NLS. The nonapeptide was necessary to target espin isoforms to the nucleus and was sufficient to target an unrelated protein to the nucleus when joined with the upstream di-arginine-containing octapeptide. The presence of cytoplasmic and nuclear espins in SGNs suggests additional roles for espins in auditory neuroscience.
Project description:The dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) receives afferent input from the auditory nerve and is thus usually thought of as a monaural nucleus, but it also receives inputs from the contralateral cochlear nucleus as well as descending projections from binaural nuclei. Evidence suggests that some of these commissural and efferent projections are excitatory, whereas others are inhibitory. The goals of this study were to investigate the nature and effects of these inputs in the DCN by measuring DCN principal cell (type IV unit) responses to a variety of contralateral monaural and binaural stimuli. As expected, the results of contralateral stimulation demonstrate a mixture of excitatory and inhibitory influences, although inhibitory effects predominate. Most type IV units are weakly, if at all, inhibited by tones but are strongly inhibited by broadband noise (BBN). The inhibition evoked by BBN is also low threshold and short latency. This inhibition is abolished and excitation is revealed when strychnine, a glycine-receptor antagonist, is applied to the DCN; application of bicuculline, a GABAA-receptor antagonist, has similar effects but does not block the onset of inhibition. Manipulations of discrete fiber bundles suggest that the inhibitory, but not excitatory, inputs to DCN principal cells enter the DCN via its output pathway, and that the short latency inhibition is carried by commissural axons. Consistent with their respective monaural effects, responses to binaural tones as a function of interaural level difference are essentially the same as responses to ipsilateral tones, whereas binaural BBN responses decrease with increasing contralateral level. In comparison to monaural responses, binaural responses to virtual space stimuli show enhanced sensitivity to the elevation of a sound source in ipsilateral space but reduced sensitivity in contralateral space. These results show that the contralateral inputs to the DCN are functionally relevant in natural listening conditions, and that one role of these inputs is to enhance DCN processing of spectral sound localization cues produced by the pinna.
Project description:DBA/2J (D2) mice, which exhibit very early progressive sensorineural hearing loss, were treated nightly with an augmented acoustic environment (AAE) initiated before the onset of hearing, and consisting of repetitive bursts of a 70-dB sound pressure level (SPL), 4-25 kHz noise band. At 55 days of age, AAE-treated mice exhibited less elevation of auditory brainstem response thresholds, fewer missing hair cells, and greatly reduced loss of anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN) volume and neuron number compared to untreated control mice. It was hypothesized that the central neuroprotective effect was associated with increased afferent input to AVCN neurons evoked by the AAE as well as a healthier cochlea.
Project description:Tonotopic differentiations of ion channels ensure sound processing across frequencies. Afferent input plays a critical role in differentiations. We demonstrate here in organotypic culture of chicken cochlear nucleus that expression of Kv1.1 was coupled with Ca2+ to a different degree depending on tonotopic regions, thereby differentiating the level of expression within the nucleus. In the culture, Kv1.1 was down-regulated and not differentiated tonotopically. Chronic depolarization increased Kv1.1 expression in a level-dependent manner. Moreover, the dependence was steeper at higher-frequency regions, which restored the differentiation. The depolarization increased Kv1.1 via activation of Cav1 channels, whereas basal Ca2+ level elevated similarly irrespective of tonotopic regions. Thus, the efficiency of Ca2+-dependent Kv1.1 expression would be fine-tuned in a tonotopic-region-specific manner, emphasizing the importance of neuronal tonotopic identity as well as pattern of afferent input in the tonotopic differentiation of the channel in the auditory circuit.
Project description:Exposure to loud sound causes cochlear damage resulting in hearing loss and tinnitus. Tinnitus has been related to hyperactivity in the central auditory pathway occurring weeks after loud sound exposure. However, central excitability changes concomitant to hearing loss and preceding those periods of hyperactivity, remain poorly explored. Here we investigate mechanisms contributing to excitability changes in the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN) shortly after exposure to loud sound that produces hearing loss. We show that acoustic overexposure alters synaptic transmission originating from the auditory and the multisensory pathway within the DCN in different ways. A reduction in the number of myelinated auditory nerve fibers leads to a reduced maximal firing rate of DCN principal cells, which cannot be restored by increasing auditory nerve fiber recruitment. In contrast, a decreased membrane resistance of DCN granule cells (multisensory inputs) leads to a reduced maximal firing rate of DCN principal cells that is overcome when additional multisensory fibers are recruited. Furthermore, gain modulation by inhibitory synaptic transmission is disabled in both auditory and multisensory pathways. These cellular mechanisms that contribute to decreased cellular excitability in the central auditory pathway are likely to represent early neurobiological markers of hearing loss and may suggest interventions to delay or stop the development of hyperactivity that has been associated with tinnitus.