Confirming a Role for ?9nAChRs and SK Potassium Channels in Type II Hair Cells of the Turtle Posterior Crista.
ABSTRACT: In turtle posterior cristae, cholinergic vestibular efferent neurons (VENs) synapse on type II hair cells, bouton afferents innervating type II hair cells, and afferent calyces innervating type I hair cells. Electrical stimulation of VENs releases acetylcholine (ACh) at these synapses to exert diverse effects on afferent background discharge including rapid inhibition of bouton afferents and excitation of calyx-bearing afferents. Efferent-mediated inhibition is most pronounced in bouton afferents innervating type II hair cells near the torus, but becomes progressively smaller and briefer when moving longitudinally through the crista toward afferents innervating the planum. Sharp-electrode recordings have inferred that efferent-mediated inhibition of bouton afferents requires the sequential activation of alpha9-containing nicotinic ACh receptors (?9*nAChRs) and small-conductance, calcium-dependent potassium channels (SK) in type II hair cells. Gradations in the strength of efferent-mediated inhibition across the crista likely reflect variations in ?9*nAChRs and/or SK activation in type II hair cells from those different regions. However, in turtle cristae, neither inference has been confirmed with direct recordings from type II hair cells. To address these gaps, we performed whole-cell, patch-clamp recordings from type II hair cells within a split-epithelial preparation of the turtle posterior crista. Here, we can easily visualize and record hair cells while maintaining their native location within the neuroepithelium. Consistent with ?9*nAChR/SK activation, ACh-sensitive currents in type II hair cells were inward at hyperpolarizing potentials but reversed near -90 mV to produce outward currents that typically peaked around -20 mV. ACh-sensitive currents were largest in torus hair cells but absent from hair cells near the planum. In current clamp recordings under zero-current conditions, ACh robustly hyperpolarized type II hair cells. ACh-sensitive responses were reversibly blocked by the ?9nAChR antagonists ICS, strychnine, and methyllycaconitine as well as the SK antagonists apamin and UCL1684. Intact efferent terminals in the split-epithelial preparation spontaneously released ACh that also activated ?9*nAChRs/SK in type II hair cells. These release events were accelerated with high-potassium external solution and all events were blocked by strychnine, ICS, methyllycaconitine, and apamin. These findings provide direct evidence that activation of ?9*nAChR/SK in turtle type II hair cells underlies efferent-mediated inhibition of bouton afferents.
Project description:Electrical stimulation of vestibular efferent neurons rapidly excites the resting discharge of calyx/dimorphic (CD) afferents. In turtle, this excitation arises when acetylcholine (ACh), released from efferent terminals, directly depolarizes calyceal endings by activating nicotinic ACh receptors (nAChRs). Although molecular biological data from the peripheral vestibular system implicate most of the known nAChR subunits, specific information about those contributing to efferent-mediated excitation of CD afferents is lacking. We sought to identify the nAChR subunits that underlie the rapid excitation of CD afferents and whether they differ from ?9?10 nAChRs on type II hair cells that drive efferent-mediated inhibition in adjacent bouton afferents. We recorded from CD and bouton afferents innervating the turtle posterior crista during electrical stimulation of vestibular efferents while applying several subtype-selective nAChR agonists and antagonists. The ?9?10 nAChR antagonists, ?-bungarotoxin and ?-conotoxin RgIA, blocked efferent-mediated inhibition in bouton afferents while leaving efferent-mediated excitation in CD units largely intact. Conversely, 5-iodo-A-85380, sazetidine-A, varenicline, ?-conotoxin MII, and bPiDDB (N,N-dodecane-1,12-diyl-bis-3-picolinium dibromide) blocked efferent-mediated excitation in CD afferents without affecting efferent-mediated inhibition in bouton afferents. This pharmacological profile suggested that calyceal nAChRs contain ?6 and ?2, but not ?9, nAChR subunits. Selective blockade of efferent-mediated excitation in CD afferents distinguished dimorphic from calyx afferents by revealing type II hair cell input. Dimorphic afferents differed in having higher mean discharge rates and a mean efferent-mediated excitation that was smaller in amplitude yet longer in duration. Molecular biological data demonstrated the expression of ?9 in turtle hair cells and ?4 and ?2 in associated vestibular ganglia.
Project description:In the mammalian vestibular periphery, electrical activation of the efferent vestibular system (EVS) has two effects on afferent activity: 1) it increases background afferent discharge and 2) decreases afferent sensitivity to rotational stimuli. Although the cellular mechanisms underlying these two contrasting afferent responses remain obscure, we postulated that the reduction in afferent sensitivity was attributed, in part, to the activation of ?9- containing nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh) receptors (?9*nAChRs) and small-conductance potassium channels (SK) in vestibular type II hair cells, as demonstrated in the peripheral vestibular system of other vertebrates. To test this hypothesis, we examined the effects of the predominant EVS neurotransmitter ACh on vestibular type II hair cells from wild-type (wt) and ?9-subunit nAChR knockout (?9-/-) mice. Immunostaining for choline acetyltransferase revealed there were no obvious gross morphological differences in the peripheral EVS innervation among any of these strains. ACh application onto wt type II hair cells, at resting potentials, produced a fast inward current followed by a slower outward current, resulting in membrane hyperpolarization and decreased membrane resistance. Hyperpolarization and decreased resistance were due to gating of SK channels. Consistent with activation of ?9*nAChRs and SK channels, these ACh-sensitive currents were antagonized by the ?9*nAChR blocker strychnine and SK blockers apamin and tamapin. Type II hair cells from ?9-/- mice, however, failed to respond to ACh at all. These results confirm the critical importance of ?9nAChRs in efferent modulation of mammalian type II vestibular hair cells. Application of exogenous ACh reduces electrical impedance, thereby decreasing type II hair cell sensitivity. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Expression of ?9 nicotinic subunit was crucial for fast cholinergic modulation of mammalian vestibular type II hair cells. These findings show a multifaceted efferent mechanism for altering hair cell membrane potential and decreasing membrane resistance that should reduce sensitivity to hair bundle displacements.
Project description:Stimulation of vestibular efferent neurons excites calyx and dimorphic (CD) afferents. This excitation consists of fast and slow components that differ >100-fold in activation kinetics and response duration. In the turtle, efferent-mediated fast excitation arises in CD afferents when the predominant efferent neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) activates calyceal nicotinic ACh receptors (nAChRs); however, it is unclear whether the accompanying efferent-mediated slow excitation is also attributed to cholinergic mechanisms. To identify synaptic processes underlying efferent-mediated slow excitation, we recorded from CD afferents innervating the turtle posterior crista during electrical stimulation of efferent neurons, in combination with pharmacological probes and mechanical stimulation. Efferent-mediated slow excitation was unaffected by nAChR compounds that block efferent-mediated fast excitation, but were mimicked by muscarine and antagonized by atropine, indicating that it requires ACh and muscarinic ACh receptor (mAChR) activation. Efferent-mediated slow excitation or muscarine application enhanced the sensitivity of CD afferents to mechanical stimulation, suggesting that mAChR activation increases afferent input impedance by closing calyceal potassium channels. These observations were consistent with suppression of a muscarinic-sensitive K+-current, or M-current. Immunohistochemistry for putative M-current candidates suggested that turtle CD afferents express KCNQ3, KCNQ4, and ERG1-3 potassium channel subunits. KCNQ channels were favored as application of the selective antagonist XE991 mimicked and occluded efferent-mediated slow excitation in CD afferents. These data highlight an efferent-mediated mechanism for enhancing afferent sensitivity. They further suggest that the clinical effectiveness of mAChR antagonists in treating balance disorders may also target synaptic mechanisms in the vestibular periphery, and that KCNQ channel modulators might offer similar therapeutic value.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Targeting the efferent vestibular system (EVS) pharmacologically might prove useful in ameliorating some forms of vestibular dysfunction by modifying ongoing primary vestibular input. EVS activation engages several kinetically distinct synaptic processes that profoundly alter the discharge rate and sensitivity of first-order vestibular neurons. Efferent-mediated slow excitation of vestibular afferents is of considerable interest given its ability to elevate afferent activity over an extended time course. We demonstrate for the first time that efferent-mediated slow excitation of vestibular afferents is mediated by muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (mAChR) activation and the subsequent closure of KCNQ potassium channels. The clinical effectiveness of some anti-mAChR drugs in treating motion sickness suggest that we may, in fact, already be targeting the peripheral EVS.
Project description:The dynamic adjustment of hearing sensitivity and frequency selectivity is mediated by the medial olivocochlear efferent reflex, which suppresses the gain of the 'cochlear amplifier' in each ear. Such efferent feedback is important for promoting discrimination of sounds in background noise, sound localization and protecting the cochleae from acoustic overstimulation. However, the sensory driver for the olivocochlear reflex is unknown. Here, we resolve this longstanding question using a mouse model null for the gene encoding the type III intermediate filament peripherin (Prph). Prph((-/-)) mice lacked type II spiral ganglion neuron innervation of the outer hair cells, whereas innervation of the inner hair cells by type I spiral ganglion neurons was normal. Compared with Prph((+/+)) controls, both contralateral and ipsilateral olivocochlear efferent-mediated suppression of the cochlear amplifier were absent in Prph((-/-)) mice, demonstrating that outer hair cells and their type II afferents constitute the sensory drive for the olivocochlear efferent reflex.
Project description:In the vestibular periphery of nearly every vertebrate, cholinergic vestibular efferent neurons give rise to numerous presynaptic varicosities that target hair cells and afferent processes in the sensory neuroepithelium. Although pharmacological studies have described the postsynaptic actions of vestibular efferent stimulation in several species, characterization of efferent innervation patterns and the relative distribution of efferent varicosities among hair cells and afferents are also integral to understanding how efferent synapses operate. Vestibular efferent markers, however, have not been well characterized in the turtle, one of the animal models used by our laboratory. Here we sought to identify reliable efferent neuronal markers in the vestibular periphery of turtle, to use these markers to understand how efferent synapses are organized, and to compare efferent neuronal labeling patterns in turtle with two other amniotes using some of the same markers. Efferent fibers and varicosities were visualized in the semicircular canal of red-eared turtles (Trachemys scripta elegans), zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata), and mice (Mus musculus) utilizing fluorescent immunohistochemistry with antibodies against choline acetyltransferase (ChAT). Vestibular hair cells and afferents were counterstained using antibodies to myosin VIIa and calretinin. In all species, ChAT labeled a population of small diameter fibers giving rise to numerous spherical varicosities abutting type II hair cells and afferent processes. That these ChAT-positive varicosities represent presynaptic release sites were demonstrated by colabeling with antibodies against the synaptic vesicle proteins synapsin I, SV2, or syntaxin and the neuropeptide calcitonin gene-related peptide. Comparisons of efferent innervation patterns among the three species are discussed.
Project description:The utricle provides critical information about spatiotemporal properties of head movement. It comprises multiple subdivisions whose functional roles are poorly understood. We previously identified four subdivisions in turtle utricle, based on hair bundle structure and mechanics, otoconial membrane structure and hair bundle coupling, and immunoreactivity to calcium-binding proteins. Here we ask whether these macular subdivisions are innervated by distinctive populations of afferents to help us understand the role each subdivision plays in signaling head movements. We quantified the morphology of 173 afferents and identified six afferent classes, which differ in structure and macular locus. Calyceal and dimorphic afferents innervate one striolar band. Bouton afferents innervate a second striolar band; they have elongated terminals and the thickest processes and axons of all bouton units. Bouton afferents in lateral (LES) and medial (MES) extrastriolae have small-diameter axons but differ in collecting area, bouton number, and hair cell contacts (LES >> MES). A fourth, distinctive population of bouton afferents supplies the juxtastriola. These results, combined with our earlier findings on utricular hair cells and the otoconial membrane, suggest the hypotheses that MES and calyceal afferents encode head movement direction with high spatial resolution and that MES afferents are well suited to signal three-dimensional head orientation and striolar afferents to signal head movement onset.
Project description:The afferent encoding of vestibular stimuli depends on molecular mechanisms that regulate membrane potential, concentration gradients, and ion and neurotransmitter clearance at both afferent and efferent relays. In many cell types, the Na,K-ATPase (NKA) is essential for establishing hyperpolarized membrane potentials and mediating both primary and secondary active transport required for ion and neurotransmitter clearance. In vestibular sensory epithelia, a calyx nerve ending envelopes each type I hair cell, isolating it over most of its surface from support cells and posing special challenges for ion and neurotransmitter clearance. We used immunofluorescence and high-resolution confocal microscopy to examine the cellular and subcellular patterns of NKAα subunit expression within the sensory epithelia of semicircular canals as well as an otolith organ (the utricle). Results were similar for both kinds of vestibular organ. The neuronal NKAα3 subunit was detected in all afferent endings-both the calyx afferent endings on type I hair cells and bouton afferent endings on type II hair cells-but was not detected in efferent terminals. In contrast to previous results in the cochlea, the NKAα1 subunit was detected in hair cells (both type I and type II) but not in supporting cells. The expression of distinct NKAα subunits by vestibular hair cells and their afferent endings may be needed to support and shape the high rates of glutamatergic neurotransmission and spike initiation at the unusual type I-calyx synapse.
Project description:Acetylcholine (ACh) is the major neurotransmitter released from vestibular efferent terminals onto hair cells and afferents. Previous studies indicate that the two classes of acetylcholine receptors, nicotinic (nAChRs) and muscarinic receptors (mAChRs), are expressed by vestibular hair cells (VHCs). To identify if both classes of receptors are present in VHCs, whole cell, voltage-clamp- and current-clamp-patch recordings were performed on isolated pigeon vestibular type I and type II HCs during the application of the cholinergic agonists, acetylcholine and carbachol, and the cholinergic antagonists, D-tubocurarine and atropine. By applying in different combinations, these compounds were used to selectively activate either nAChRs or mAChRs. The effects of nAChR and mAChR activation on HC currents and zero electrode current potential (V(z)) were monitored. It was found that presumed mAChR activation decreased both inward and outward currents in both type I and type II HCs, resulting in either a depolarization or hyperpolarization. Conversely, nAChR activation mainly increased both inward and outward currents in type II HCs, resulting in a hyperpolarization of their V(z). nAChR activation also increased outward currents in type I HCs resulting in either a depolarization or hyperpolarization of their V(z). The decrease of inward and outward currents and the depolarization of the V(z) in type I pigeon HCs by activation of mAChRs represents a new finding. Ion channel candidates in pigeon vestibular HCs that might underlie the modulation of the macroscopic ionic currents and V(z) by different AChR activation are discussed.
Project description:The efferent synaptic specialization of hair cells includes a near-membrane synaptic cistern, whose presence suggests a role for internal calcium stores in cholinergic inhibition. Calcium release channels from internal stores include 'ryanodine receptors', whose participation is usually demonstrated by sensitivity to the eponymous plant alkaloid, ryanodine. However, use of this and other store-active compounds on hair cells could be confounded by the unusual pharmacology of the alpha9alpha10-containing hair cell nicotinic cholinergic receptor (nAChR), which has been shown to be antagonized by a broad spectrum of compounds. Surprisingly, we found that ryanodine, rather than antagonizing, is a positive modulator of the alpha9alpha10 nAChR expressed in Xenopus oocytes, the first such compound to be found. The effect of ryanodine was to increase the apparent affinity and efficacy for acetylcholine (ACh). Correspondingly, ACh-evoked currents through the isolated cholinergic receptors of inner hair cells in excised mouse cochleas were approximately doubled by 200 microM ryanodine, a concentration that inhibits gating of the ryanodine receptor itself. This unusual positive modulation was not unique to the mammalian receptor. The response to ACh of chicken 'short' hair cells likewise was enhanced in the presence of 100 microM ryanodine. This facilitatory effect on current through the AChR could enhance brief ( approximately 1 s) activation of associated calcium-dependent K(+) (SK) channels in both chicken short hair cells and rat outer hair cells. This novel effect of ryanodine provides new opportunities for the design of compounds that potentiate alpha9alpha10-mediated responses and for potential inner ear therapeutics based on this interaction.
Project description:Spontaneous calcium transients are present during early postnatal development in the mouse retina and cochlea, and play an important role in maturation of the sensory organs and neural circuits in the central nervous system (CNS). It is not known whether similar calcium transients occur during postnatal development in the vestibular sensory organs. Here we demonstrate spontaneous intracellular calcium transients in sensory hair cells (HCs) and supporting cells (SCs) in the murine utricular macula during the first two postnatal weeks. Calcium transients were monitored using a genetically encoded calcium indicator, GCaMP5G (G5), at 100 ms-frame<sup>-1</sup> in excised utricle sensory epithelia, including HCs, SCs, and neurons. The reporter line expressed G5 and tdTomato (tdT) in a Gad2-Cre dependent manner within a subset of utricular HCs, SCs and neurons. Kinetics of the G5 reporter limited temporal resolution to calcium events lasting longer than 200 ms. Spontaneous calcium transients lasting 1-2 s were observed in the expressing population of HCs at birth and slower spontaneous transients lasting 10-30 s appeared in SCs by P3. Beginning at P5, calcium transients could be modulated by application of the efferent neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh). In mature mice, calcium transients in the utricular macula occurred spontaneously, had a duration 1-2 s, and could be modulated by the exogenous application of acetylcholine (ACh) or muscarine. Long-lasting calcium transients evoked by ACh in mature mice were blocked by atropine, consistent with previous reports describing the role of muscarinic receptors expressed in calyx bearing afferents in efferent control of vestibular sensation. Large spontaneous and ACh evoked transients were reversibly blocked by the inositol trisphosphate receptor (IP<sub>3</sub>R) antagonist aminoethoxydiphenyl borate (2-APB). Results demonstrate long-lasting calcium transients are present in the utricular macula during the first postnatal week, and that responses to ACh mature over this same time period.