Experience-dependent homeostasis of 'noise' at inhibitory synapses preserves information coding in adult visual cortex.
ABSTRACT: Synapses are intrinsically 'noisy' in that neurotransmitter is occasionally released in the absence of an action potential. At inhibitory synapses, the frequency of action potential-independent release is orders of magnitude higher than that at excitatory synapses raising speculations that it may serve a function. Here we report that the frequency of action potential-independent inhibitory synaptic 'noise' (i.e. miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents, mIPSCs) is highly regulated by sensory experience in visual cortex. Importantly, regulation of mIPSC frequency is so far the predominant form of functional plasticity at inhibitory synapses in adults during the refractory period for plasticity and is a locus of rapid non-genomic actions of oestrogen. Models predict that regulating the frequency of mIPSCs, together with the previously characterized synaptic scaling of miniature excitatory PSCs, allows homeostatic maintenance of both the mean and variance of inputs to a neuron, a necessary feature of probabilistic population codes. Furthermore, mIPSC frequency regulation allows preservation of the temporal profile of neural responses while homeostatically regulating the overall firing rate. Our results suggest that the control of inhibitory 'noise' allows adaptive maintenance of adult cortical function in tune with the sensory environment.This article is part of the themed issue 'Integrating Hebbian and homeostatic plasticity'.
Project description:Homeostatic regulation of synaptic strength in response to persistent changes of neuronal activity plays an important role in maintaining the overall level of circuit activity within a normal range. Absence of miniature EPSCs (mEPSCs) for a few hours is known to cause upregulation of excitatory synaptic strength, suggesting that mEPSCs contribute to the maintenance of excitatory synaptic functions. In the present study, we found that the absence of mEPSCs for 1-3 h also resulted in homeostatic suppression of presynaptic functions of inhibitory synapses in acute cortical slices from juvenile rats, as suggested by the reduced frequency (but not amplitude) of miniature IPSCs (mIPSCs) as well as the reduced amplitude of IPSCs. This homeostatic regulation depended on endocannabinoid (eCB) signaling, because blockade of either the activation of cannabinoid type-1 receptors (CB1Rs) or the synthesis of its endogenous ligand 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) abolished the suppression of inhibitory synapses caused by the absence of mEPSCs. Blockade of group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR-I) also abolished the suppression of inhibitory synapses, consistent with the mGluR-I requirement for eCB synthesis and release in cortical synapses. Furthermore, this homeostatic regulation also required eukaryotic elongation factor-2 (eEF2)-dependent protein synthesis, but not gene transcription. Activation of eEF2 alone was sufficient to suppress the mIPSC frequency, an effect abolished by inhibiting CB1Rs. Thus, mEPSCs contribute to the maintenance of inhibitory synaptic function and the absence of mEPSCs results in presynaptic suppression of inhibitory synapses via protein synthesis-dependent elevation of eCB signaling.
Project description:1. We previously reported a presynaptic facilitatory action of A(2A) receptors on GABAergic synaptic transmission in the rat globus pallidus (GP). In the present study we identify the intracellular signalling mechanisms responsible for this facilitatory action of A(2A) receptors, using biochemical and patch-clamp methods in rat GP slices. 2. The adenosine A(2A) receptor selective agonist CGS21680 (1, 10 microM) and the adenylyl cyclase activator forskolin (1, 10 microM) both significantly increased cyclic AMP accumulation in GP slices. The CGS21680 (1 microM)-mediated increase in cyclic AMP was inhibited by the A(2A) receptor selective antagonist KF17837 (10 microM). 3. In an analysis of miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs), forskolin (10 microM) increased the mIPSC frequency without affecting their amplitude distribution, a result similar to that previously reported with CGS21680. 4. The adenylyl cyclase inhibitor 9-(tetrahydro-2-furanyl)-9H-purin-6-amine (SQ22,536, 300 microM) abolished the CGS21680-induced enhancement in the frequency of mIPSCs. 5. H-89 (10 microM), a selective inhibitor for cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA), blocked the CGS21680-induced enhancement of the mIPSC frequency. 6. The calcium channel blocker CdCl(2) (100 microM) did not prevent CGS21680 from increasing the frequency of mIPSCs. 7. These results indicate that A(2A) receptor-mediated potentiation of mIPSCs in the GP involves the sequential activation of the A(2A) receptor, adenylyl cyclase, and then PKA, and that this facilitatory modulation could occur independently of presynaptic Ca(2+) influx.
Project description:RATIONALE:Ethanol can enhance GABA release in various brain regions via presynaptic mechanisms. However, the presynaptic action of ethanol on inhibitory GABA release is still not well understood. OBJECTIVES:Since calcium is required for neurotransmitter release from presynaptic terminals, the purpose of this study was to investigate the role of both internal and external calcium signaling in ethanol-induced enhancement of GABA release within the central amygdala nucleus (CeA) in acute brain slice preparations. METHODS:Whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology was used to record miniature GABAA receptor-mediated inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) from CeA neurons. Ethanol-enhanced mIPSCs were recorded in the presence of antagonists that regulate internal and external calcium-mediated processes. RESULTS:Bath-applied ethanol dose-dependently increased the mean frequency of mIPSCs without altering mIPSC amplitude. Ethanol-induced increases in mIPSC frequency were antagonized by dantrolene, 2-APB, and the endoplasmic reticulum calcium pump (SERCA) antagonists thapsigargin and cyclopiazonic acid (CPA). Blocking calcium release from mitochondria or via exocytosis with ruthenium red also attenuated mIPSCs while frequency was not altered in the presence of a non-selective calcium channel blocker cadmium. The L-type calcium blocker nifedipine, but not its analogue nimodipine, blocked ethanol-induced enhancement in CeA neurons. CONCLUSIONS:These results demonstrate ethanol-induced presynaptic release of GABA is mediated by internal calcium stores and by disrupting neurotransmitter exocytosis within the CeA, a critical brain area involved in drugs of abuse and alcohol addiction.
Project description:The corelease of several neurotransmitters from a single synaptic vesicle has been observed at many central synapses. Nevertheless, the signaling synergy offered by cotransmission and the mechanisms that maintain the optimal release and detection of neurotransmitters at mixed synapses remain poorly understood, thus limiting our ability to interpret changes in synaptic signaling and identify molecules important for plasticity. In the brainstem and spinal cord, GABA and glycine cotransmission is facilitated by a shared vesicular transporter VIAAT (also named VGAT), and occurs at many immature inhibitory synapses. As sensory and motor networks mature, GABA/glycine cotransmission is generally replaced by either pure glycinergic or GABAergic transmission, and the functional role for the continued corelease of GABA and glycine is unclear. Whether or not, and how, the GABA/glycine content is balanced in VIAAT-expressing vesicles from the same terminal, and how loading variability effects the strength of inhibitory transmission is not known. Here, we use a combination of loose-patch (LP) and whole-cell (WC) electrophysiology in cultured spinal neurons of GlyT2:eGFP mice to sample miniature inhibitory post synaptic currents (mIPSCs) that originate from individual GABA/glycine co-releasing synapses and develop a modeling approach to illustrate the gradual change in mIPSC phenotypes as glycine replaces GABA in vesicles. As a consistent GABA/glycine balance is predicted if VIAAT has access to both amino-acids, we test whether vesicle exocytosis from a single terminal evokes a homogeneous population of mixed mIPSCs. We recorded mIPSCs from 18 individual synapses and detected glycine-only mIPSCs in 4/18 synapses sampled. The rest (14/18) were co-releasing synapses that had a significant proportion of mixed GABA/glycine mIPSCs with a characteristic biphasic decay. The majority (9/14) of co-releasing synapses did not have a homogenous phenotype, but instead signaled with a combination of mixed and pure mIPSCs, suggesting that there is variability in the loading and/or storage of GABA and glycine at the level of individual vesicles. Our modeling predicts that when glycine replaces GABA in synaptic vesicles, the redistribution between the peak amplitude and charge transfer of mIPSCs acts to maintain the strength of inhibition while increasing the temporal precision of signaling.
Project description:The phytocannabinoid Delta(9)-tetrahydrocannabivarin (Delta(9)-THCV) has been reported to exhibit a diverse pharmacology; here, we investigate functional effects of Delta(9)-THCV, extracted from Cannabis sativa, using electrophysiological techniques to define its mechanism of action in the CNS.Effects of Delta(9)-THCV and synthetic cannabinoid agents on inhibitory neurotransmission at interneurone-Purkinje cell (IN-PC) synapses were correlated with effects on spontaneous PC output using single-cell and multi-electrode array (MEA) electrophysiological recordings respectively, in mouse cerebellar brain slices in vitro.The cannabinoid receptor agonist WIN 55,212-2 (WIN55) decreased miniature inhibitory postsynaptic current (mIPSC) frequency at IN-PC synapses. WIN55-induced inhibition was reversed by Delta(9)-THCV, and also by the CB(1) receptor antagonist AM251; Delta(9)-THCV or AM251 acted to increase mIPSC frequency beyond basal values. When applied alone, Delta(9)-THCV, AM251 or rimonabant increased mIPSC frequency. Pre-incubation with Delta(9)-THCV blocked WIN55-induced inhibition. In MEA recordings, WIN55 increased PC spike firing rate; Delta(9)-THCV and AM251 acted in the opposite direction to decrease spike firing. The effects of Delta(9)-THCV and WIN55 were attenuated by the GABA(A) receptor antagonist bicuculline methiodide.We show for the first time that Delta(9)-THCV acts as a functional CB(1) receptor antagonist in the CNS to modulate inhibitory neurotransmission at IN-PC synapses and spontaneous PC output. Delta(9)-THCV- and AM251-induced increases in mIPSC frequency beyond basal levels were consistent with basal CB(1) receptor activity. WIN55-induced increases in PC spike firing rate were consistent with synaptic disinhibition; whilst Delta(9)-THCV- and AM251-induced decreases in spike firing suggest a mechanism of PC inhibition.
Project description:Synaptic inhibition in the CNS is mostly mediated by GABA or glycine. Generally, the use of the two transmitters is spatially segregated, but there are central synapses employing both, which allows for spatial and temporal variability of inhibitory mechanisms. Spherical bushy cells (SBCs) in the mammalian cochlear nucleus receive primary excitatory inputs through auditory nerve fibers arising from the organ of Corti and non-primary inhibition mediated by a dual glycine-GABA transmission. Slow kinetics IPSCs enable activity dependent tonic-like conductance build up, functioning as a gain control by filtering out small or temporally imprecise EPSPs. However, it remained elusive whether GABA and glycine are released as content of the same vesicle or from distinct presynaptic terminals. The developmental profile of quantal release was investigated with whole cell recordings of miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) from P1-P25 SBCs of Mongolian gerbils. GABA is the initial transmitter eliciting slow-rising and -decaying events of relatively small amplitudes, occurring only during early postnatal life. Around and after hearing onset, the inhibitory quanta are predominantly containing glycine that-with maturity-triggers progressively larger and longer mIPSC. In addition, GABA corelease with glycine evokes mIPSCs of particularly large amplitudes consistently occurring across all ages, but with low probability. Together, these results suggest that GABA, as the primary transmitter released from immature inhibitory terminals, initially plays a developmental role. In maturity, GABA is contained in synaptic vesicles only in addition to glycine to increase the inhibitory potency, thereby fulfilling solely a modulatory function.
Project description:1. A common anaesthetic endpoint, prevention of withdrawal from a noxious stimulus, is determined primarily in spinal cord, where glycine is an important inhibitory transmitter. To define pre- and postsynaptic anaesthetic actions at glycinergic synapses, the effects of volatile anaesthetic agents on spontaneous and evoked glycinergic currents in spinal cord motor neurons from 6 - 14-day old rats was investigated. 2. The volatile anaesthetic agents enflurane, isoflurane and halothane significantly increased the frequency of glycinergic mIPSCs, enflurane to 190.4% of control+/-22.0 (mean+/-s.e.m., n=7, P<0.01), isoflurane to 199.0%+/-28.8 (n=7, P<0.05) and halothane to 198.2%+/-19.5 (n=7, P<0.01). However without TTX, isoflurane and halothane had no significant effect and enflurane decreased sIPSC frequency to 42.5% of control+/-12.4 (n=6, P<0.01). All the anaesthetics prolonged the decay time constant (tau) of both spontaneous and glycine-evoked currents without increasing amplitude. With TTX total charge transfer was increased; without TTX charge transfer was unchanged (isoflurane and halothane) or decreased (enflurane). 3. Enflurane-induced mIPSC frequency increases were not significantly affected by Cd(2+) (50 microM), thapsigargin (1 - 5 microM), or KB-R7943 (5 microM). KB-R7943 and thapsigargin together abolished the enflurane-induced increase in mIPSC frequency. 4. There are opposing facilitatory and inhibitory actions of volatile anaesthetics on glycine release dependent on calcium homeostatic mechanisms and sodium channels respectively. Under normal conditions (no TTX) the absolute amount of glycinergic inhibition does not increase. The contribution of glycinergic inhibition to anaesthesia may depend on its duration rather than its absolute magnitude.
Project description:A change in the spontaneous release of neurotransmitter is a useful indicator of processes occurring within presynaptic terminals. Linear techniques (e.g. Fourier transform) have been used to analyse spontaneous synaptic events in previous studies, but such methods are inappropriate if the timing pattern is complex. We have investigated spontaneous glycinergic miniature synaptic currents (mIPSCs) in principal cells of the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body. The random versus deterministic (or periodic) nature of mIPSCs was assessed using recurrence quantification analysis. Nonlinear methods were then used to quantify any detected determinism in spontaneous release, and to test for chaotic or fractal patterns. Modelling demonstrated that this procedure is much more sensitive in detecting periodicities than conventional techniques. mIPSCs were found to exhibit periodicities that were abolished by blockade of internal calcium stores with ryanodine, suggesting calcium oscillations in the presynaptic inhibitory terminals. Analysis indicated that mIPSC occurrences were chaotic in nature. Furthermore, periodicities were less evident in congenitally deaf mice than in normal mice, indicating that appropriate neural activity during development is necessary for the expression of deterministic chaos in mIPSC patterns. We suggest that chaotic oscillations of mIPSC occurrences play a physiological role in signal processing in the auditory brainstem.
Project description:Opioid inhibition of presynaptic GABA release in the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG) activates the descending antinociception pathway. Tolerance to repeated opioid administration is associated with upregulation of adenylyl cyclase activity. The objective of these studies was to test the hypothesis that adenylyl cyclase contributes to opioid tolerance by modulating GABA neurotransmission. Repeated microinjections of morphine or the adenylyl cyclase activator NKH477 into the vlPAG decreased morphine antinociception as would be expected with the development of tolerance. Conversely, microinjection of the adenylyl cyclase inhibitor SQ22536 reversed both the development and expression of morphine tolerance. These behavioral results indicate that morphine tolerance is dependent on adenylyl cyclase activation. Electrophysiological experiments revealed that acute activation of adenylyl cyclase with forskolin increased the frequency of presynaptic GABA release. However, recordings from rats treated with repeated morphine administration did not exhibit increased basal miniature inhibitory postsynaptic current (mIPSC) frequency but showed a decrease in mean amplitude of mIPSCs indicating that repeated morphine administration modulates postsynaptic GABAA receptors without affecting the probability of presynaptic GABA release. SQ22536 reversed this change in mIPSC amplitude and inhibited mIPSC frequency selectively in morphine tolerant rats. Repeated morphine or NKH477 administration also decreased antinociception induced by microinjection of the GABAA receptor antagonist bicuculline, further demonstrating changes in GABA neurotransmission with morphine tolerance. These results show that the upregulation of adenylyl cyclase caused by repeated vlPAG morphine administration produces antinociceptive tolerance by modulating both pre- and postsynaptic GABA neurotransmission.
Project description:The balance between excitatory and inhibitory synapses is crucial for normal brain function. Wnt proteins stimulate synapse formation by increasing synaptic assembly. However, it is unclear whether Wnt signaling differentially regulates the formation of excitatory and inhibitory synapses. Here, we demonstrate that Wnt7a preferentially stimulates excitatory synapse formation and function. In hippocampal neurons, Wnt7a increases the number of excitatory synapses, whereas inhibitory synapses are unaffected. Wnt7a or postsynaptic expression of Dishevelled-1 (Dvl1), a core Wnt signaling component, increases the frequency and amplitude of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs), but not miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs). Wnt7a increases the density and maturity of dendritic spines, whereas Wnt7a-Dvl1-deficient mice exhibit defects in spine morphogenesis and mossy fiber-CA3 synaptic transmission in the hippocampus. Using a postsynaptic reporter for Ca(2+)/Calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) activity, we demonstrate that Wnt7a rapidly activates CaMKII in spines. Importantly, CaMKII inhibition abolishes the effects of Wnt7a on spine growth and excitatory synaptic strength. These data indicate that Wnt7a signaling is critical to regulate spine growth and synaptic strength through the local activation of CaMKII at dendritic spines. Therefore, aberrant Wnt7a signaling may contribute to neurological disorders in which excitatory signaling is disrupted.