A Novel Striated Muscle-Specific Myosin-Blocking Drug for the Study of Neuromuscular Physiology.
ABSTRACT: The failure to transmit neural action potentials (APs) into muscle APs is referred to as neuromuscular transmission failure (NTF). Although synaptic dysfunction occurs in a variety of neuromuscular diseases and impaired neurotransmission contributes to muscle fatigue, direct evaluation of neurotransmission by measurement of successfully transduced muscle APs is difficult due to the subsequent movements produced by muscle. Moreover, the voltage-gated sodium channel inhibitor used to study neurotransmitter release at the adult neuromuscular junction is ineffective in embryonic tissue, making it nearly impossible to precisely measure any aspect of neurotransmission in embryonic lethal mouse mutants. In this study we utilized 3-(N-butylethanimidoyl)-4-hydroxy-2H-chromen-2-one (BHC), previously identified in a small-molecule screen of skeletal muscle myosin inhibitors, to suppress movements without affecting membrane currents. In contrast to previously characterized drugs from this screen such as N-benzyl-p-toluene sulphonamide (BTS), which inhibit skeletal muscle myosin ATPase activity but also block neurotransmission, BHC selectively blocked nerve-evoked muscle contraction without affecting neurotransmitter release. This feature allowed a detailed characterization of neurotransmission in both embryonic and adult mice. In the presence of BHC, neural APs produced by tonic stimulation of the phrenic nerve at rates up to 20 Hz were successfully transmitted into muscle APs. At higher rates of phrenic nerve stimulation, NTF was observed. NTF was intermittent and characterized by successful muscle APs following failed ones, with the percentage of successfully transmitted muscle APs diminishing over time. Nerve stimulation rates that failed to produce NTF in the presence of BHC similarly failed to produce a loss of peak muscle fiber shortening, which was examined using a novel optical method of muscle fatigue, or a loss of peak cytosolic calcium transient intensity, examined in whole populations of muscle cells expressing the genetically-encoded calcium indicator GCaMP3. Most importantly, BHC allowed for the first time a detailed analysis of synaptic transmission, calcium signaling and fatigue in embryonic mice, such as in Vamp2 mutants reported here, that die before or at birth. Together, these studies illustrate the wide utility of BHC in allowing stable measurements of neuromuscular function.
Project description:In aging Fischer 344 rats, phrenic motor neuron loss, neuromuscular junction abnormalities, and diaphragm muscle (DIAm) sarcopenia are present by 24 mo of age, with larger fast-twitch fatigue-intermediate (type FInt) and fast-twitch fatigable (type FF) motor units particularly vulnerable. We hypothesize that in old rats, DIAm neuromuscular transmission deficits are specific to type FInt and/or FF units. In phrenic nerve/DIAm preparations from rats at 6 and 24 mo of age, the phrenic nerve was supramaximally stimulated at 10, 40, or 75 Hz. Every 15 s, the DIAm was directly stimulated, and the difference in forces evoked by nerve and muscle stimulation was used to estimate neuromuscular transmission failure. Neuromuscular transmission failure in the DIAm was observed at each stimulation frequency. In the initial stimulus trains, the forces evoked by phrenic nerve stimulation at 40 and 75 Hz were significantly less than those evoked by direct muscle stimulation, and this difference was markedly greater in 24-mo-old rats. During repetitive nerve stimulation, neuromuscular transmission failure at 40 and 75 Hz worsened to a greater extent in 24-mo-old rats compared with younger animals. Because type IIx and/or IIb DIAm fibers (type FInt and/or FF motor units) display greater susceptibility to neuromuscular transmission failure at higher frequencies of stimulation, these data suggest that the age-related loss of larger phrenic motor neurons impacts nerve conduction to muscle at higher frequencies and may contribute to DIAm sarcopenia in old rats. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Diaphragm muscle (DIAm) sarcopenia, phrenic motor neuron loss, and perturbations of neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) are well described in aged rodents and selectively affect FInt and FF motor units. Less attention has been paid to the motor unit-specific aspects of nerve-muscle conduction. In old rats, increased neuromuscular transmission failure occurred at stimulation frequencies where FInt and FF motor units exhibit conduction failures, along with decreased apposition of pre- and postsynaptic domains of DIAm NMJs of these units.
Project description:Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a devastating neuromuscular disease in which weakness, increased susceptibility to muscle injury, and inadequate repair underlie the pathology. While most attention has focused within the muscle fiber, we recently demonstrated significant alterations in the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) morphology and resulting neuromuscular transmission failure (NTF) 24 h after injury in mdx mice (murine model for DMD). Here we determine the contribution of NMJ morphology and NTF to the recovery of muscle contractile function post-injury. NMJ morphology and NTF rates were assessed day 0 (immediately after injury) and days 1, 7, 14 and 21 after quadriceps injury. Eccentric injury of the quadriceps resulted in a significant loss of maximal torque in both WT (39 ± 6 %) and mdx (76 ± 8 %) with a full recovery in WT by day 7 and in mdx by day 21. Post-injury alterations in NMJ morphology and NTF were found only in mdx, were limited to days 0 and 1, and were independent of changes in MuSK or AChR expression. Such early changes at the NMJ after injury are consistent with mechanical disruption rather than newly forming NMJs. Furthermore, we show that the dense microtubule network that underlies the NMJ is significantly reduced and disorganized in mdx compared to WT. These structural changes at the NMJ may play a role in the increased NMJ disruption and the exaggerated loss of nerve-evoked muscle force seen after injury to dystrophic muscles.
Project description:We previously reported NO/sGC signaling in the upper respiratory pathway, receiving input from the respiratory neurons of the brainstem to phrenic motoneurons in the C3-C6 spinal cord. In order to assess whether innervation of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) at the diaphragm is modulated by sGC/cGMP signaling, we performed unilateral 8-day continuous ligation of the phrenic nerve in rats. We examined sGC?1 within the lower bulbospinal pathway (phrenic motoneurons, phrenic nerves and NMJs at the diaphragm) and the cGMP level in the contra- and ipsilateral hemidiaphragm. Additionally, we characterized the extent of phrenic nerve axonal degeneration and denervation at diaphragm NMJs. The results of our study show that continuous 8-day phrenic nerve ligation caused a marked increase in sGC?1 (immunoreactivity and the protein level) in the ipsilateral phrenic motor pool. However, the protein sGC?1 level in the phrenic nerve below its ligation and the cGMP level in the ipsilateral hemidiaphragm were evidently decreased. Using confocal analysis we discovered a reduction in sGC?1-IR boutons/synaptic vesicles at the ipsilateral MNJs. These findings are consistent with the marked axonal loss (?47%) and significant NMJs degeneration in the ipsilateral diaphragm muscle. The remarkable unilateral decrease in cGMP level in the diaphragm and the failure of EMG recordings in the ipsilateral hemidiaphragm muscle can be attributed to the fact that sGC is involved in transmitter release at the diaphragm NMJs via the sGC-cGMP pathway.
Project description:The neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) acts via tropomyosin-related kinase B receptor (TrkB) to regulate synapse maintenance and function in the neuromuscular system. The potentiation of acetylcholine (ACh) release by BDNF requires TrkB phosphorylation and Protein Kinase C (PKC) activation. BDNF is secreted in an activity-dependent manner but it is not known if pre- and/or postsynaptic activities enhance BDNF expression in vivo at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Here, we investigated whether nerve and muscle cell activities regulate presynaptic conventional PKC (cPKC? and ?I) via BDNF/TrkB signaling to modulate synaptic strength at the NMJ. To differentiate the effects of presynaptic activity from that of muscle contraction, we stimulated the phrenic nerve of rat diaphragms (1 Hz, 30 min) with or without contraction (abolished by ?-conotoxin GIIIB). Then, we performed ELISA, Western blotting, qRT-PCR, immunofluorescence and electrophysiological techniques. We found that nerve-induced muscle contraction: (1) increases the levels of mature BDNF protein without affecting pro-BDNF protein or BDNF mRNA levels; (2) downregulates TrkB.T1 without affecting TrkB.FL or p75 neurotrophin receptor (p75) levels; (3) increases presynaptic cPKC? and cPKC?I protein level through TrkB signaling; and (4) enhances phosphorylation of cPKC? and cPKC?I. Furthermore, we demonstrate that cPKC?I, which is exclusively located in the motor nerve terminals, increases activity-induced acetylcholine release. Together, these results show that nerve-induced muscle contraction is a key regulator of BDNF/TrkB signaling pathway, retrogradely activating presynaptic cPKC isoforms (in particular cPKC?I) to modulate synaptic function. These results indicate that a decrease in neuromuscular activity, as occurs in several neuromuscular disorders, could affect the BDNF/TrkB/PKC pathway that links pre- and postsynaptic activity to maintain neuromuscular function.
Project description:Genetic studies using a set of overlapping deletions centered at the piebald locus on distal mouse chromosome 14 have defined a genomic region associated with respiratory distress and lethality at birth. We have isolated and characterized the candidate gene Phr1 that is located within the respiratory distress critical genomic interval. Phr1 is the ortholog of the human Protein Associated with Myc as well as Drosophila highwire and Caenorhabditis elegans regulator of presynaptic morphology 1. Phr1 is expressed in the embryonic and postnatal nervous system. In mice lacking Phr1, the phrenic nerve failed to completely innervate the diaphragm. In addition, nerve terminal morphology was severely disrupted, comparable with the synaptic defects seen in the Drosophila hiw and C. elegans rpm-1 mutants. Although intercostal muscles were completely innervated, they also showed dysmorphic nerve terminals. In addition, sensory neuron terminals in the diaphragm were abnormal. The neuromuscular junctions showed excessive sprouting of nerve terminals, consistent with inadequate presynaptic stimulation of the muscle. On the basis of the abnormal neuronal morphology seen in mice, Drosophila, and C. elegans, we propose that Phr1 plays a conserved role in synaptic development and is a candidate gene for respiratory distress and ventilatory disorders that arise from defective neuronal control of breathing.
Project description:Terminal or perisynaptic Schwann cells (TPSCs) are nonmyelinating, perisynaptic glial cells at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) that respond to neural activity by increasing intracellular calcium (Ca2+) and regulate synaptic function. The onset of activity-induced TPSC Ca2+ responses, as well as whether axonal Schwann cells (ASCs) along the nerve respond to nerve stimulation during development, is unknown. Here, we show that phrenic nerve stimulation in developing male and female mice elicited Ca2+ responses in both ASCs and TPSCs at embryonic day 14. ASC responses were lost in a proximo-distal gradient over time, but could continue to be elicited by bath application of neurotransmitter, suggesting that a loss of release rather than a change in ASC competence accounted for this response gradient. Similar to those of early postnatal TPSCs, developing ASC/TPSC responses were mediated by purinergic P2Y1 receptors. The loss of ASC Ca2+ responses was correlated to the proximo-distal disappearance of synaptophysin immunoreactivity and synaptic vesicles in phrenic axons. Accordingly, developing ASC Ca2+ responses were blocked by botulinum toxin. Interestingly, the loss of ASC Ca2+ responses was also correlated to the proximo-distal development of myelination. Finally, compared with postnatal TPSCs, neonatal TPSCs and ASCs displayed Ca2+ signals in response to lower frequencies and shorter durations of nerve stimulation. Together, these results with GCaMP3-expressing Schwann cells provide ex vivo evidence that both axons and presynaptic terminals initially exhibit activity-induced vesicular release of neurotransmitter, but that the subsequent loss of axonal synaptic vesicles accounts for the postnatal restriction of vesicular release to the NMJ.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Neural activity regulates multiple aspects of development, including myelination. Whether the excitation of developing neurons in vivo results in the release of neurotransmitter from both axons and presynaptic terminals is unclear. Here, using mice expressing the genetically encoded calcium indicator GCaMP3 in Schwann cells, we show that both terminal/perisynaptic Schwann cells at the diaphragm neuromuscular junction and axonal Schwann cells along the phrenic nerve exhibit activity-induced calcium responses early in development, mediated by the vesicular release of ATP from the axons of motor neurons acting on P2Y1 receptors. These ex vivo findings corroborate classic in vitro studies demonstrating transmitter release by developing axons, and thus represent a tool to study the mechanisms and significance of this process during embryonic development.
Project description:Exogenous electrical nerve stimulation has been reported to promote nerve regeneration. Our previous study has suggested that endogenous automatic nerve discharge of the phrenic nerve and intercostal nerve has a positive effect on nerve regeneration at 1 month postoperatively, but a negative effect at 2 months postoperatively, which may be caused by scar compression. In this study, we designed four different rat models to avoid the negative effect from scar compression. The control group received musculocutaneous nerve cut and repair. The other three groups were subjected to side-to-side transfer of either the phrenic (phrenic nerve group), intercostal (intercostal nerve group) or thoracodorsal nerves (thoracic dorsal nerve group), with sural nerve autograft distal to the anastomosis site. Musculocutaneous nerve regeneration was assessed by electrophysiology of the musculocutaneous nerve, muscle tension, muscle wet weight, maximum cross-sectional area of biceps, and myelinated fiber numbers of the proximal and distal ends of the anastomosis site of the musculocutaneous nerve and the middle of the nerve graft. At 1 month postoperatively, compound muscle action potential amplitude of the biceps in the phrenic nerve group and the intercostal nerve group was statistically higher than that in the control group. The myelinated nerve fiber numbers in the distal end of the musculocutaneous nerve and nerve graft anastomosis in the phrenic nerve and the intercostal nerve groups were statistically higher than those in the control and thoracic dorsal nerve groups. The neural degeneration rate in the middle of the nerve graft in the thoracic dorsal nerve group was statistically higher than that in the phrenic nerve and the intercostal nerve groups. At 2 and 3 months postoperatively, no significant difference was detected between the groups in all the assessments. These findings confirm that the phrenic nerve and intercostal nerve have a positive effect on nerve regeneration at the early stage of recovery. This study established an optimized animal model in which suturing the nerve graft to the distal site of the musculocutaneous nerve anastomosis prevented the inhibition of recovery from scar compression.
Project description:The diaphragm is a mammalian skeletal muscle essential for respiration and for separating the thoracic and abdominal cavities. Development of the diaphragm requires the coordinated development of muscle, muscle connective tissue, tendon, nerves, and vasculature that derive from different embryonic sources. However, defects in diaphragm development are common and the cause of an often deadly birth defect, Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia (CDH). Here we comprehensively describe the normal developmental origin and complex spatial-temporal relationship between the different developing tissues to form a functional diaphragm using a developmental series of mouse embryos genetically and immunofluorescently labeled and analyzed in whole mount. We find that the earliest developmental events are the emigration of muscle progenitors from cervical somites followed by the projection of phrenic nerve axons from the cervical neural tube. Muscle progenitors and phrenic nerve target the pleuroperitoneal folds (PPFs), transient pyramidal-shaped structures that form between the thoracic and abdominal cavities. Subsequently, the PPFs expand across the surface of the liver to give rise to the muscle connective tissue and central tendon, and the leading edge of their expansion precedes muscle morphogenesis, formation of the vascular network, and outgrowth and branching of the phrenic nerve. Thus development and morphogenesis of the PPFs is critical for diaphragm formation. In addition, our data indicate that the earliest events in diaphragm development are critical for the etiology of CDH and instrumental to the evolution of the diaphragm. CDH initiates prior to E12.5 in mouse and suggests that defects in the early PPF formation or their ability to recruit muscle are an important source of CDH. Also, the recruitment of muscle progenitors from cervical somites to the nascent PPFs is uniquely mammalian and a key developmental innovation essential for the evolution of the muscularized diaphragm.
Project description:We investigated whether the inspiratory muscles affect maximal incremental exercise performance using a placebo-controlled, crossover design. Six cyclists each performed six incremental exercise tests. For three trials, subjects exercised with proportional assist ventilation (PAV). For the remaining three trials, subjects underwent sham respiratory muscle unloading (placebo). Inspiratory muscle pressure (P(mus)) was reduced with PAV (-35.9+/-2.3% versus placebo; P<0.05). Furthermore, V(O2) and perceptions of dyspnea and limb discomfort at submaximal exercise intensities were significantly reduced with PAV. Peak power output, however, was not different between placebo and PAV (324+/-4W versus 326+/-4W; P>0.05). Diaphragm fatigue (bilateral phrenic nerve stimulation) did not occur in placebo. In conclusion, substantially unloading the inspiratory muscles did not affect maximal incremental exercise performance. Therefore, our data do not support a role for either inspiratory muscle work or fatigue per se in the limitation of maximal incremental exercise.
Project description:Conventional protein kinase C ?I (cPKC?I) is a conventional protein kinase C (PKC) isoform directly involved in the regulation of neurotransmitter release in the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). It is located exclusively at the nerve terminal and both synaptic activity and muscle contraction modulate its protein levels and phosphorylation. cPKC?I molecular maturation includes a series of phosphorylation steps, the first of which is mediated by phosphoinositide-dependent kinase 1 (PDK1). Here, we sought to localize PDK1 in the NMJ and investigate the hypothesis that synaptic activity and muscle contraction regulate in parallel PDK1 and cPKC?I phosphorylation in the membrane fraction. To differentiate the presynaptic and postsynaptic activities, we abolished muscle contraction with ?-conotoxin GIIIB (?-CgTx-GIIIB) in some experiments before stimulation of the phrenic nerve (1 Hz, 30 min). Then, we analyzed total and membrane/cytosol fractions of skeletal muscle by Western blotting. Results showed that PDK1 is located exclusively in the nerve terminal of the NMJ. After nerve stimulation with and without coincident muscle contraction, total PDK1 and phosphorylated PDK1 (pPDK1) protein levels remained unaltered. However, synaptic activity specifically enhanced phosphorylation of PDK1 in the membrane, an important subcellular location for PDK1 function. This increase in pPDK1 coincides with a significant increase in the phosphorylation of its substrate cPKC?I also in the membrane fraction. Moreover, muscle contraction maintains PDK1 and pPDK1 but increases cPKC?I protein levels and its phosphorylation. Thus, even though PDK1 activity is maintained, pcPKC?I levels increase in concordance with total cPKC?I. Together, these results indicate that neuromuscular activity could induce the membrane targeting of pPDK1 in the nerve terminal of the NMJ to promote the phosphorylation of the cPKC?I, which is involved in ACh release.