Unique Configurations of Compression and Truncation of Neuronal Activity Underlie l-DOPA-Induced Selection of Motor Patterns in Aplysia.
ABSTRACT: A key issue in neuroscience is understanding the ways in which neuromodulators such as dopamine modify neuronal activity to mediate selection of distinct motor patterns. We addressed this issue by applying either low or high concentrations of l-DOPA (40 or 250 ?M) and then monitoring activity of up to 130 neurons simultaneously in the feeding circuitry of Aplysia using a voltage-sensitive dye (RH-155). l-DOPA selected one of two distinct buccal motor patterns (BMPs): intermediate (low l-DOPA) or bite (high l-DOPA) patterns. The selection of intermediate BMPs was associated with shortening of the second phase of the BMP (retraction), whereas the selection of bite BMPs was associated with shortening of both phases of the BMP (protraction and retraction). Selection of intermediate BMPs was also associated with truncation of individual neuron spike activity (decreased burst duration but no change in spike frequency or burst latency) in neurons active during retraction. In contrast, selection of bite BMPs was associated with compression of spike activity (decreased burst latency and duration and increased spike frequency) in neurons projecting through specific nerves, as well as increased spike frequency of protraction neurons. Finally, large-scale voltage-sensitive dye recordings delineated the spatial distribution of neurons active during BMPs and the modification of that distribution by the two concentrations of l-DOPA.
Project description:Understanding circuit function requires the characterization of component neurons and their neurotransmitters. Previous work on radula protraction in the Aplysia feeding circuit demonstrated that critical neurons initiate feeding via cholinergic excitation. In contrast, it is less clear how retraction is mediated at the interneuronal level. In particular, glutamate involvement was suggested, but was not directly confirmed. Here we study a suspected glutamatergic retraction interneuron, B64. We used the representational difference analysis (RDA) method to successfully clone an Aplysia vesicular glutamate transporter (ApVGLUT) from B64 and from a glutamatergic motor neuron B38. Previously, RDA was used to characterize novel neuropeptides. Here we demonstrate its utility for characterizing other types of molecules. Bioinformatics suggests that ApVGLUT is more closely related to mammalian VGLUTs than to Drosophila and Caenorhabditis elegans VGLUTs. We expressed ApVGLUT in a cell line, and demonstrated that it indeed transports glutamate in an ATP and proton gradient-dependent manner. We mapped the ApVGLUT distribution in the CNS using in situ hybridization and immunocytochemistry. Further, we demonstrated that B64 is ApVGLUT positive, supporting the idea that it is glutamatergic. Although glutamate is primarily an excitatory transmitter in the mammalian CNS, B64 elicits inhibitory PSPs in protraction neurons to terminate protraction and excitatory PSPs in retraction neurons to maintain retraction. Pharmacological data indicated that both types of PSPs are mediated by glutamate. Thus, glutamate mediates the dual function of B64 in Aplysia. More generally, our systematic approaches based on RDA may facilitate analyses of transmitter actions in small circuits with identifiable neurons.
Project description:When individual neurons in a circuit contain multiple neuropeptides, these peptides can target different sets of follower neurons. This endows the circuit with a certain degree of flexibility. Here we identified a novel family of peptides, the Aplysia SPTR-Gene Family-Derived peptides (apSPTR-GF-DPs). We demonstrated apSPTR-GF-DPs, particularly apSPTR-GF-DP2, are expressed in the Aplysia CNS using immunohistochemistry and MALDI-TOF MS. Furthermore, apSPTR-GF-DP2 is present in single projection neurons, e.g., in the cerebral-buccal interneuron-12 (CBI-12). Previous studies have demonstrated that CBI-12 contains two other peptides, FCAP/CP2. In addition, CBI-12 and CP2 promote shortening of the protraction phase of motor programs. Here, we demonstrate that FCAP shortens protraction. Moreover, we show that apSPTR-GF-DP2 also shortens protraction. Surprisingly, apSPTR-GF-DP2 does not increase the excitability of retraction interneuron B64. B64 terminates protraction and is modulated by FCAP/CP2 and CBI-12. Instead, we show that apSPTR-GF-DP2 and CBI-12 increase B20 excitability and B20 activity can shorten protraction. Taken together, these data indicate that different CBI-12 peptides target different sets of pattern-generating interneurons to exert similar modulatory actions. These findings provide the first definitive evidence for SPTR-GF's role in modulation of feeding, and a form of molecular degeneracy by multiple peptide cotransmitters in single identified neurons.
Project description:Anatomical, stimulation and lesion data implicate vibrissa motor cortex in whisker motor control. Work on motor cortex has focused on movement generation, but correlations between vibrissa motor cortex activity and whisking are weak. The exact role of vibrissa motor cortex remains unknown. We recorded vibrissa motor cortex neurons during various forms of vibrissal touch, which were invariably associated with whisker protraction and movement. Free whisking, object palpation and social touch all resulted in decreased cortical activity. To understand this activity decrease, we performed juxtacellular recordings, nanostimulation and in vivo whole-cell recordings. Social touch resulted in decreased spiking activity, decreased cell excitability and membrane hyperpolarization. Activation of vibrissa motor cortex by intracortical microstimulation elicited whisker retraction, as if to abort vibrissal touch. Various vibrissa motor cortex inactivation protocols resulted in contralateral protraction and increased whisker movements. These data collectively point to movement suppression as a prime function of vibrissa motor cortex activity.
Project description:Dopamine (DA) profoundly stimulates motor function as demonstrated by the hypokinetic motor symptoms in Parkinson's disease (PD) and by the hyperkinetic motor side effects during dopaminergic treatment of PD. Dopamine (DA) receptor-bypassing, optogenetics- and chemogenetics-induced spike firing of striatal DA D1 receptor (D1R)-expressing, direct pathway medium spiny neurons (dSPNs or dMSNs) promotes movements. However, the endogenous D1R-mediated effects, let alone those of DA replacement, on dSPN spike activity in freely-moving animals is not established. Here we show that using transcription factor Pitx3 null mutant (Pitx3Null) mice as a model for severe and consistent DA denervation in the dorsal striatum in Parkinson's disease, antidromically identified striatonigral neurons (D1R-expressing dSPNs) had a lower baseline spike firing rate than that in DA-intact normal mice, and these neurons increased their spike firing more strongly in Pitx3Null mice than in WT mice in response to injection of L-dopa or the D1R agonist, SKF81297; the increase in spike firing temporally coincided with the motor-stimulating effects of L-dopa and SKF81297. Taken together, these results provide the first evidence from freely moving animals that in parkinsonian striatum, identified behavior-promoting dSPNs become hyperactive upon the administration of L-dopa or a D1 agonist, likely contributing to the profound dopaminergic motor stimulation in parkinsonian animals and PD patients.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Locomotion results from the generation of ground reaction forces (GRF) that cause translations of the center of mass (COM) and generate moments that rotate the body around the COM. The trot is a diagonally-synchronized gait performed by horses at intermediate locomotor speeds. Passage is a variant of the trot performed by highly-trained dressage horses. It is distinguished from trot by having a slow speed of progression combined with great animation of the limbs in the swing phase. The slow speed of passage challenges the horse's ability to control the sagittal-plane moments around the COM. Footfall patterns and peak GRF are known to differ between passage and trot, but their effects on balance management, which we define here as the ability to control nose-up/nose-down pitching moments around the horse's COM to maintain a state of equilibrium, are not known. The objective was to investigate which biomechanical variables influence pitching moments around the COM in passage.<h4>Methods</h4>Three highly-trained dressage horses were captured by a 10-camera motion analysis system (120 Hz) as they were ridden in passage over four force platforms (960 Hz). A full-body marker set was used to track the horse's COM and measure balance variables including total body center of pressure (COP), pitching moments, diagonal dissociation timing, peak force production, limb protraction-retraction, and trunk posture. A total of twenty passage steps were extracted and partial correlation (accounting for horse) was used to investigate significant (<i>P</i> < 0.05) relationships between variables.<h4>Results</h4>Hindlimb mean protraction-retraction correlated significantly with peak hindlimb propulsive forces (<i>R</i> = 0.821; <i>P</i> < 0.01), mean pitching moments (<i>R</i> = 0.546, <i>P</i> = 0.016), trunk range of motion, COM craniocaudal location and diagonal dissociation time (<i>P</i> < 0.05).<h4>Discussion</h4>Pitching moments around the COM were controlled by a combination of kinematic and kinetic adjustments that involve coordinated changes in GRF magnitudes, GRF distribution between the diagonal limb pairs, and the moment arms of the vertical GRFs. The moment arms depend on hoof placements relative to the COM, which were adjusted by changing limb protraction-retraction angles. Nose-up pitching moments could also be increased by providing a larger hindlimb propulsive GRF.
Project description:Whisker movements are used by rodents to touch objects in order to extract spatial and textural tactile information about their immediate surroundings. To understand the mechanisms of such active sensorimotor processing it is important to investigate whisker motor control. The activity of neurons in the neocortex affects whisker movements, but many aspects of the organization of cortical whisker motor control remain unknown. Here, we filmed whisker movements evoked by sequential optogenetic stimulation of different locations across the left dorsal sensorimotor cortex of awake head-restrained mice. Whisker movements were evoked by optogenetic stimulation of many regions in the dorsal sensorimotor cortex. Optogenetic stimulation of whisker sensory barrel cortex evoked retraction of the contralateral whisker after a short latency, and a delayed rhythmic protraction of the ipsilateral whisker. Optogenetic stimulation of frontal cortex evoked rhythmic bilateral whisker protraction with a longer latency compared to stimulation of sensory cortex. Compared to frontal cortex stimulation, larger amplitude bilateral rhythmic whisking in a less protracted position was evoked at a similar latency by stimulating a cortical region posterior to Bregma and close to the midline. These data suggest that whisker motor control might be broadly distributed across the dorsal mouse sensorimotor cortex. Future experiments must investigate the complex neuronal circuits connecting specific cell-types in various cortical regions with the whisker motor neurons located in the facial nucleus.
Project description:Plasticity within hippocampal circuits is essential for memory functions. The hippocampal CA2/CA3 region is thought to be able to rapidly store incoming information by plastic modifications of synaptic weights within its recurrent network. High-frequency spike-bursts are believed to be essential for this process, by serving as triggers for synaptic plasticity. Given the diversity of CA2/CA3 pyramidal neurons, it is currently unknown whether and how burst activity, assessed <i>in vivo</i> during natural behavior, relates to principal cell heterogeneity. To explore this issue, we juxtacellularly recorded the activity of single CA2/CA3 neurons from freely-moving male mice, exploring a familiar environment. In line with previous work, we found that spatial and temporal activity patterns of pyramidal neurons correlated with their topographical position. Morphometric analysis revealed that neurons with a higher proportion of distal dendritic length displayed a higher tendency to fire spike-bursts. We propose that the dendritic architecture of pyramidal neurons might determine burst-firing by setting the relative amount of distal excitatory inputs from the entorhinal cortex.<b>SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT</b> High-frequency spike-bursts are thought to serve fundamental computational roles within neural circuits. Within hippocampal circuits, spike-bursts are believed to serve as potent instructive signals, which increase the efficiency of information transfer and induce rapid modifications of synaptic efficacies. In the present study, by juxtacellularly recording and labeling single CA2/CA3 neurons in freely-moving mice, we explored whether and how burst propensity relates to pyramidal cell heterogeneity. We provide evidence that, within the CA2/CA3 region, neurons with higher proportion of distal dendritic length display a higher tendency to fire spike-bursts. Thus, the relative amount of entorhinal inputs, arriving onto the distal dendrites, might determine the burst propensity of individual CA2/CA3 neurons <i>in vivo</i> during natural behavior.
Project description:A gradient of bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) along the dorsoventral axis of the spinal cord is necessary for the specification of dorsal neurons. Concurrently, a gradient of calcium-mediated electrical activity is present in the developing spinal cord but in an opposing ventrodorsal direction. Whether BMPs and electrical activity interact in embryonic spinal neurons remains unknown. We show that BMP decreases electrical activity by enhancing p38 MAPK-mediated negative modulation of voltage-gated sodium channels. In turn, electrical activity affects the phosphorylation status and nuclear level of activated Smads, the canonical components of BMP signaling. This interaction between calcium spike activity and BMP signaling regulates the specification of the dorsal commissural spinal neuron phenotype. The present study identifies an unexpected interplay between BMPs and electrical activity that is critical for decoding the morphogen gradient during spinal neuron differentiation.
Project description:High-frequency "burst" clusters of spikes are a generic output pattern of many neurons. While bursting is a ubiquitous computational feature of different nervous systems across animal species, the encoding of synaptic inputs by bursts is not well understood. We find that bursting neurons in the rodent thalamus employ "multiplexing" to differentially encode low- and high-frequency stimulus features associated with either T-type calcium "low-threshold" or fast sodium spiking events, respectively, and these events adapt differently. Thus, thalamic bursts encode disparate information in three channels: (1) burst size, (2) burst onset time, and (3) precise spike timing within bursts. Strikingly, this latter "intraburst" encoding channel shows millisecond-level feature selectivity and adapts across statistical contexts to maintain stable information encoded per spike. Consequently, calcium events both encode low-frequency stimuli and, in parallel, gate a transient window for high-frequency, adaptive stimulus encoding by sodium spike timing, allowing bursts to efficiently convey fine-scale temporal information.
Project description:Neuronal networks produce reliable functional output throughout the lifespan of an animal despite ceaseless molecular turnover and a constantly changing environment. Central pattern generators, such as those of the crustacean stomatogastric ganglion (STG), are able to robustly maintain their functionality over a wide range of burst periods. Previous experimental work involving extracellular recordings of the pyloric pattern of the STG has demonstrated that as the burst period varies, the inter-neuronal delays are altered proportionally, resulting in burst phases that are roughly invariant. The question whether spike delays within bursts are also proportional to pyloric period has not been explored in detail. The mechanism by which the pyloric neurons accomplish phase maintenance is currently not obvious. Previous studies suggest that the co-regulation of certain ion channel properties may play a role in governing neuronal activity. Here, we observed in long-term recordings of the pyloric rhythm that spike delays can vary proportionally with burst period, so that spike phase is maintained. We then used a conductance-based model neuron to determine whether co-varying ionic membrane conductances results in neural output that emulates the experimentally observed phenomenon of spike phase maintenance. Next, we utilized a model neuron database to determine whether conductance correlations exist in model neuron populations with highly maintained spike phases. We found that co-varying certain conductances, including the sodium and transient calcium conductance pair, causes the model neuron to maintain a specific spike phase pattern. Results indicate a possible relationship between conductance co-regulation and phase maintenance in STG neurons.