Mathematical Modeling and Analyses of Interspike-Intervals of Spontaneous Activity in Afferent Neurons of the Zebrafish Lateral Line.
ABSTRACT: Without stimuli, hair cells spontaneously release neurotransmitter leading to spontaneous generation of action potentials (spikes) in innervating afferent neurons. We analyzed spontaneous spike patterns recorded from the lateral line of zebrafish and found that distributions of interspike intervals (ISIs) either have an exponential shape or an "L" shape that is characterized by a sharp decay but wide tail. ISI data were fitted to renewal-process models that accounted for the neuron refractory periods and hair-cell synaptic release. Modeling the timing of synaptic release using a mixture of two exponential distributions yielded the best fit for our ISI data. Additionally, lateral line ISIs displayed positive serial correlation and appeared to exhibit switching between faster and slower modes of spike generation. This pattern contrasts with previous findings from the auditory system where ISIs tended to have negative serial correlation due to synaptic depletion. We propose that afferent neuron innervation with multiple and heterogenous hair-cells synapses, each influenced by changes in calcium domains, can serve as a mechanism for the random switching behavior. Overall, our analyses provide evidence of how physiological similarities and differences between synapses and innervation patterns in the auditory, vestibular, and lateral line systems can lead to variations in spontaneous activity.
Project description:The proper wiring of the vertebrate brain represents an extraordinary developmental challenge, requiring billions of neurons to select their appropriate synaptic targets. In view of this complexity, simple vertebrate systems provide necessary models for understanding how synaptic specificity arises. The posterior lateral-line organ of larval zebrafish consists of polarized hair cells organized in discrete clusters known as neuromasts. Here we show that each afferent neuron of the posterior lateral line establishes specific contacts with hair cells of the same hair-bundle polarity. We quantify this specificity by modeling the neuron as a biased selector of hair-cell polarity and find evidence for bias from as early as 2.5 d after fertilization. More than half of the neurons form contacts on multiple neuromasts, but the innervated organs are spatially consecutive and the polarity preference is consistent. Using a novel reagent for correlative electron microscopy, HRP-mCherry, we show that these contacts are indeed afferent synapses bearing vesicle-loaded synaptic ribbons. Moreover, afferent neurons reassume their biased innervation pattern after hair-cell ablation and regeneration. By documenting specificity in the pattern of neuronal connectivity during development and in the context of organ regeneration, these results establish the posterior lateral-line organ as a vertebrate system for the in vivo study of synaptic target selection.
Project description:The utricle provides the vestibular reflex pathways with the sensory codes of inertial acceleration of self-motion and head orientation with respect to gravity to control balance and equilibrium. Here we present an anatomical description of this structure in the adult oyster toadfish and establish a morphological basis for interpretation of subsequent functional studies. Light, scanning, and transmission electron microscopy techniques were applied to visualize the sensory epithelium at varying levels of detail, its neural innervation and its synaptic organization. Scanning electron microscopy was used to visualize otolith mass and morphological polarization patterns of hair cells. Afferent nerve fibers were visualized following labeling with biocytin, and light microscope images were used to make three-dimensional (3-D) reconstructions of individual labeled afferents to identify dendritic morphology with respect to epithelial location. Transmission electron micrographs were compiled to create a serial 3-D reconstruction of a labeled afferent over a segment of its dendritic field and to examine the cell-afferent synaptic contacts. Major observations are: a well-defined striola, medial and lateral extra-striolar regions with a zonal organization of hair bundles; prominent lacinia projecting laterally; dependence of hair cell density on macular location; narrow afferent dendritic fields that follow the hair bundle polarization; synaptic specializations issued by afferents are typically directed towards a limited number of 7-13 hair cells, but larger dendritic fields in the medial extra-striola can be associated with?>?20 hair cells also; and hair cell synaptic bodies can be confined to only an individual afferent or can synapse upon several afferents.
Project description:Hair cells in the auditory, vestibular, and lateral-line systems respond to mechanical stimulation and transmit information to afferent nerve fibers. The sensitivity of mechanoelectrical transduction is modulated by the efferent pathway, whose activity usually reduces the responsiveness of hair cells. The basis of this effect remains unknown.We employed immunocytological, electrophysiological, and micromechanical approaches to characterize the anatomy of efferent innervation and the effect of efferent activity on the electrical and mechanical properties of hair cells in the bullfrog's sacculus. We found that efferent fibers form extensive synaptic terminals on all macular and extramacular hair cells. Macular hair cells expressing the Ca(2+)-buffering protein calretinin contain half as many synaptic ribbons and are innervated by twice as many efferent terminals as calretinin-negative hair cells. Efferent activity elicits inhibitory postsynaptic potentials in hair cells and thus inhibits their electrical resonance. In hair cells that exhibit spiking activity, efferent stimulation suppresses the generation of action potentials. Finally, efferent activity triggers a displacement of the hair bundle's resting position.The hair cells of the bullfrog's sacculus receive a rich efferent innervation with the heaviest projection to calretinin-containing cells. Stimulation of efferent axons desensitizes the hair cells and suppresses their spiking activity. Although efferent activation influences mechanoelectrical transduction, the mechanical effects on hair bundles are inconsistent.
Project description:Cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) release neurotransmitter onto afferent auditory nerve fibers in response to sound stimulation. During early development, synaptic transmission is triggered by spontaneous Ca2+ spikes which are modulated by an efferent cholinergic innervation to IHCs. This synapse is inhibitory and mediated by the alpha9alpha10 nicotinic cholinergic receptor (nAChR). After the onset of hearing, large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels are acquired and both the spiking activity and the efferent innervation disappear from IHCs. In this work, we studied the developmental changes in the membrane properties of cochlear IHCs from alpha10 nAChR gene (Chrna10) "knockout" mice. Electrophysiological properties of IHCs were studied by whole-cell recordings in acutely excised apical turns of the organ of Corti from developing mice. Neither the spiking activity nor the developmental functional expression of voltage-gated and/or calcium-sensitive K+ channels is altered in the absence of the alpha10 nAChR subunit. The present results show that the alpha10 nAChR subunit is not essential for the correct establishment of the intrinsic electrical properties of IHCs during development.
Project description:Many auditory, vestibular, and lateral-line afferent neurons display spontaneous action potentials. This spontaneous spiking is thought to result from hair-cell glutamate release in the absence of stimuli. Spontaneous release at hair-cell resting potentials presumably results from Ca(V)1.3 L-type calcium channel activity. Here, using intact zebrafish larvae, we recorded robust spontaneous spiking from lateral-line afferent neurons in the absence of external stimuli. Consistent with the above assumptions, spiking was absent in mutants that lacked either Vesicular glutamate transporter 3 (Vglut3) or Ca(V)1.3. We then tested the hypothesis that spontaneous spiking resulted from sustained Ca(V)1.3 activity due to depolarizing currents that are active at rest. Mechanotransduction currents (I(MET)) provide a depolarizing influence to the resting potential. However, following block of I(MET), spontaneous spiking persisted and was characterized by longer interspike intervals and increased periods of inactivity. These results suggest that an additional depolarizing influence maintains the resting potential within the activation range of Ca(V)1.3. To test whether the hyperpolarization-activated cation current, I(h) participates in setting the resting potential, we applied I(h) antagonists. Both ZD7288 and DK-AH 269 reduced spontaneous activity. Finally, concomitant block of I(MET) and I(h) essentially abolished spontaneous activity, ostensibly by hyperpolarization outside of the activation range for Ca(V)1.3. Together, our data support a mechanism for spontaneous spiking that results from Ca(2+)-dependent neurotransmitter release at hair-cell resting potentials that are maintained within the activation range of Ca(V)1.3 channels through active I(MET) and I(h).
Project description:Directional mechanoreception by hair cells is transmitted to the brain via afferent neurons to enable postural control and rheotaxis. Neuronal tuning to individual directions of mechanical flow occurs when each peripheral axon selectively synapses with multiple hair cells of identical planar polarization. How such mechanosensory labeled lines are established and maintained remains unsolved. Here, we use the zebrafish lateral line to reveal that asymmetric activity of the transcription factor Emx2 diversifies hair cell identity to instruct polarity-selective synaptogenesis. Unexpectedly, presynaptic scaffolds and coherent hair cell orientation are dispensable for synaptic selectivity, indicating that epithelial planar polarity and synaptic partner matching are separable. Moreover, regenerating axons recapitulate synapses with hair cells according to Emx2 expression but not global orientation. Our results identify a simple cellular algorithm that solves the selectivity task even in the presence of noise generated by the frequent receptor cell turnover. They also suggest that coupling connectivity patterns to cellular identity rather than polarity relaxes developmental and evolutionary constraints to innervation of organs with differing orientation.
Project description:Outer hair cells (OHCs) are highly specialized sensory cells conferring the fine-tuning and high sensitivity of the mammalian cochlea to acoustic stimuli. Here, by genetically manipulating spontaneous Ca2+ signalling in mice in vivo, through a period of early postnatal development, we find that the refinement of OHC afferent innervation is regulated by complementary spontaneous Ca2+ signals originating in OHCs and non-sensory cells. OHCs fire spontaneous Ca2+ action potentials during a narrow period of neonatal development. Simultaneously, waves of Ca2+ activity in the non-sensory cells of the greater epithelial ridge cause, via ATP-induced activation of P2X3 receptors, the increase and synchronization of the Ca2+ activity in nearby OHCs. This synchronization is required for the refinement of their immature afferent innervation. In the absence of connexin channels, Ca2+ waves are impaired, leading to a reduction in the number of ribbon synapses and afferent fibres on OHCs. We propose that the correct maturation of the afferent connectivity of OHCs requires experience-independent Ca2+ signals from sensory and non-sensory cells.
Project description:During development, excess synapses form between the central and peripheral nervous systems that are then eliminated to achieve correct connectivity. In the peripheral auditory system, the developing type I spiral ganglion afferent fibres undergo a dramatic re-organisation, initially forming connections with both sensory inner hair cells (IHCs) and outer hair cells (OHCs). The OHC connections are then selectively eliminated, leaving sparse innervation by type II afferent fibres, whilst the type I afferent synapses with IHCs are consolidated.We examined the molecular makeup of the synaptic contacts formed onto the IHCs and OHCs during this period of afferent fibre remodelling. We observed that presynaptic ribbons initially form at all the afferent neurite contacts, i.e. not only at the expected developing IHC-type I fibre synapses but also at OHCs where type I fibres temporarily contact. Moreover, the transient contacts forming onto OHCs possess a broad set of pre- and postsynaptic proteins, suggesting that functional synaptic connections are formed prior to the removal of type I fibre innervation. AMPA-type glutamate receptor subunits were transiently observed at the base of the OHCs, with their downregulation occurring in parallel with the withdrawal of type I fibres, dispersal of presynaptic ribbons, and downregulation of the anchoring proteins Bassoon and Shank. Conversely, at developing type I afferent IHC synapses, the presence of pre- and postsynaptic scaffold proteins was maintained, with differential plasticity in AMPA receptor subunits observed and AMPA receptor subunit composition changing around hearing onset.Overall our data show a differential balance in the patterns of synaptic proteins at developing afferent IHC versus OHC synapses that likely reflect their stable versus transient fates.
Project description:The orientation of hair bundles on top of sensory hair cells (HCs) in neuromasts of the lateral line system allows fish to detect direction of water flow. Each neuromast shows hair bundles arranged in two opposing directions and each afferent neuron innervates only HCs of the same orientation. Previously, we showed that this opposition is established by expression of Emx2 in half of the HCs, where it mediates hair bundle reversal (<xref ref-type="bibr" rid="bib15">Jiang et al., 2017</xref>). Here, we show that Emx2 also regulates neuronal selection: afferent neurons innervate either Emx2-positive or negative HCs. In emx2 knockout and gain-of-function neuromasts, all HCs are unidirectional and the innervation patterns and physiological responses of the afferent neurons are dependent on the presence or absence of Emx2. Our results indicate that Emx2 mediates the directional selectivity of neuromasts by two distinct processes: regulating hair bundle orientation in HCs and selecting afferent neuronal targets.
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.