Characterization of transgenic mouse lines for labeling type I and type II afferent neurons in the cochlea.
ABSTRACT: The cochlea is innervated by type I and type II afferent neurons. Type I afferents are myelinated, larger diameter neurons that send a single dendrite to contact a single inner hair cell, whereas unmyelinated type II afferents are fewer in number and receive input from many outer hair cells. This strikingly differentiated innervation pattern strongly suggests specialized functions. Those functions could be investigated with specific genetic markers that enable labeling and manipulating each afferent class without significantly affecting the other. Here three mouse models were characterized and tested for specific labeling of either type I or type II cochlear afferents. Nos1CreER mice showed selective labeling of type I afferent fibers, Slc6a4-GFP mice labeled type II fibers with a slight preference for the apical cochlea, and Drd2-Cre mice selectively labeled type II afferent neurons nearer the cochlear base. In conjunction with the Th2A-CreER and CGRPα-EGFP lines described previously for labeling type II fibers, the mouse lines reported here comprise a promising toolkit for genetic manipulations of type I and type II cochlear afferent fibers.
Project description:Type II spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs) are small caliber, unmyelinated afferents that extend dendritic arbors hundreds of microns along the cochlear spiral, contacting many outer hair cells (OHCs). Despite these many contacts, type II afferents are insensitive to sound and only weakly depolarized by glutamate release from OHCs. Recent studies suggest that type II afferents may be cochlear nociceptors, and can be excited by ATP released during tissue damage, by analogy to somatic pain-sensing C-fibers. The present work compares the expression patterns among cochlear type II afferents of two genes found in C-fibers: calcitonin-related polypeptide alpha (Calca/Cgrp?), specific to pain-sensing C-fibers, and tyrosine hydroxylase (Th), specific to low-threshold mechanoreceptive C-fibers, which was shown previously to be a selective biomarker of type II versus type I cochlear afferents (Vyas et al., ). Whole-mount cochlear preparations from 3-week- to 2-month-old CGRP?-EGFP (GENSAT) mice showed expression of Cgrp? in a subset of SGNs with type II-like peripheral dendrites extending beneath OHCs. Double labeling with other molecular markers confirmed that the labeled SGNs were neither type I SGNs nor olivocochlear efferents. Cgrp? starts to express in type II SGNs before hearing onset, but the expression level declines in the adult. The expression patterns of Cgrp? and Th formed opposing gradients, with Th being preferentially expressed in apical and Cgrp? in basal type II afferent neurons, indicating heterogeneity among type II afferent neurons. The expression of Th and Cgrp? was not mutually exclusive and co-expression could be observed, most abundantly in the middle cochlear turn.
Project description:Cochlear outer hair cells (OHCs) serve both as sensory receptors and biological motors. Their sensory function is poorly understood because their afferent innervation, the type-II spiral ganglion cell, has small unmyelinated axons and constitutes only 5% of the cochlear nerve. Reciprocal synapses between OHCs and their type-II terminals, consisting of paired afferent and efferent specialization, have been described in the primate cochlea. Here, we use serial and semi-serial-section transmission electron microscopy to quantify the nature and number of synaptic interactions in the OHC area of adult cats. Reciprocal synapses were found in all OHC rows and all cochlear frequency regions. They were more common among third-row OHCs and in the apical half of the cochlea, where 86% of synapses were reciprocal. The relative frequency of reciprocal synapses was unchanged following surgical transection of the olivocochlear bundle in one cat, confirming that reciprocal synapses were not formed by efferent fibers. In the normal ear, axo-dendritic synapses between olivocochlear terminals and type-II terminals and/or dendrites were as common as synapses between olivocochlear terminals and OHCs, especially in the first row, where, on average, almost 30 such synapses were seen in the region under a single OHC. The results suggest that a complex local neuronal circuitry in the OHC area, formed by the dendrites of type-II neurons and modulated by the olivocochlear system, may be a fundamental property of the mammalian cochlea, rather than a curiosity of the primate ear. This network may mediate local feedback control of, and bidirectional communication among, OHCs throughout the cochlear spiral.
Project description:The mammalian cochlea is innervated by two classes of sensory neurons. Type I neurons make up 90-95% of the cochlear nerve and contact single inner hair cells to provide acoustic analysis as we know it. In contrast, the far less numerous type II neurons arborize extensively among outer hair cells (OHCs) and supporting cells. Their scarcity and smaller calibre axons have made them the subject of much speculation, but little experimental progress for the past 50 years. Here we record from type II fibres near their terminal arbors under OHCs to show that they receive excitatory glutamatergic synaptic input. The type II peripheral arbor conducts action potentials, but the small and infrequent glutamatergic excitation indicates a requirement for strong acoustic stimulation. Furthermore, we show that type II neurons are excited by ATP. Exogenous ATP depolarized type II neurons, both directly and by evoking glutamatergic synaptic input. These results prove that type II neurons function as cochlear afferents, and can be modulated by ATP. The lesser magnitude of synaptic drive dictates a fundamentally different role in auditory signalling from that of type I afferents.
Project description:Intense noise damages the cochlear organ of Corti, particularly the outer hair cells (OHCs) ; however, this epithelium is not innervated by nociceptors of somatosensory ganglia, which detect damage elsewhere in the body. The only sensory neurons innervating the organ of Corti originate from the spiral ganglion, roughly 95% of which innervate exclusively inner hair cells (IHCs) [2-4]. Upon sound stimulation, IHCs release glutamate to activate AMPA-type receptors on these myelinated type-I neurons, which carry the neuronal signals to the cochlear nucleus. The remaining spiral ganglion cells (type IIs) are unmyelinated and contact OHCs [2-4]. Their function is unknown. Using immunoreactivity to cFos, we documented neuronal activation in the brainstem of Vglut3(-/-) mice, in which the canonical auditory pathway (activation of type-I afferents by glutamate released from inner hair cells) is silenced [5, 6]. In these deaf mice, we found responses to noxious noise, which damages hair cells, but not to innocuous noise, in neurons of the cochlear nucleus, but not in the vestibular or trigeminal nuclei. This response originates in the cochlea and not in other areas also stimulated by intense noise (middle ear and vestibule) as it was absent in CD1 mice with selective cochlear degeneration but normal vestibular and somatosensory function. These data imply the existence of an alternative neuronal pathway from cochlea to brainstem that is activated by tissue-damaging noise and does not require glutamate release from IHCs. This detection of noise-induced tissue damage, possibly by type-II cochlear afferents, represents a novel form of sensation that we term auditory nociception.
Project description:The origin of the action potential in the cochlea has been a long-standing puzzle. Because voltage-dependent Na+ (Nav) channels are essential for action potential generation, we investigated the detailed distribution of Nav1.6 and Nav1.2 in the cochlear ganglion, cochlear nerve, and organ of Corti, including the type I and type II ganglion cells. In most type I ganglion cells, Nav1.6 was present at the first nodes flanking the myelinated bipolar cell body and at subsequent nodes of Ranvier. In the other ganglion cells, including type II, Nav1.6 clustered in the initial segments of both of the axons that flank the unmyelinated bipolar ganglion cell bodies. In the organ of Corti, Nav1.6 was localized in the short segments of the afferent axons and their sensory endings beneath each inner hair cell. Surprisingly, the outer spiral fibers and their sensory endings were well labeled beneath the outer hair cells over their entire trajectory. In contrast, Nav1.2 in the organ of Corti was localized to the unmyelinated efferent axons and their endings on the inner and outer hair cells. We present a computational model illustrating the potential role of the Nav channel distribution described here. In the deaf mutant quivering mouse, the localization of Nav1.6 was disrupted in the sensory epithelium and ganglion. Together, these results suggest that distinct Nav channels generate and regenerate action potentials at multiple sites along the cochlear ganglion cells and nerve fibers, including the afferent endings, ganglionic initial segments, and nodes of Ranvier.
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 spiral ganglion neurons constitute the primary connection between auditory hair cells and the brain. The spiral ganglion afferent fibers and their synapse with hair cells do not regenerate to any significant degree in adult mammalian ears after damage. We have investigated gene expression changes after kainate-induced disruption of the synapses in a neonatal cochlear explant model in which peripheral fibers and the afferent synapse do regenerate. We compared gene expression early after damage, during regeneration of the fibers and synapses, and after completion of in vitro regeneration. These analyses revealed a total of 2.5% differentially regulated transcripts (588 out of 24,000) based on a threshold of p<0.005. Inflammatory response genes as well as genes involved in regeneration of neural circuits were upregulated in the spiral ganglion neurons and organ of Corti, where the hair cells reside. Prominent genes upregulated at several time points included genes with roles in neurogenesis (Elavl4 and Sox21), neural outgrowth (Ntrk3 and Ppp1r1c), axonal guidance (Rgmb and Sema7a), synaptogenesis (Nlgn2 and Psd2), and synaptic vesicular function (Syt8 and Syn1). Immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization analysis of genes that had not previously been described in the cochlea confirmed their cochlear expression. The time course of expression of these genes suggests that kainate treatment resulted in a two-phase response in spiral ganglion neurons: an acute response consistent with inflammation, followed by an upregulation of neural regeneration genes. Identification of the genes activated during regeneration of these fibers suggests candidates that could be targeted to enhance regeneration in adult ears.
Project description:In the mammalian organ of Corti (OC), the stereocilia on the apical surface of hair cells (HCs) are uniformly organized in a neural to abneural axis (or medial-laterally). This organization is regulated by planar cell polarity (PCP) signaling. Mutations of PCP genes, such as Vangl2, Dvl1/2, Celsr1, and Fzd3/6, affect the formation of HC orientation to varying degrees. Prickle1 is a PCP signaling gene that belongs to the prickle / espinas / testin family. Prickle1 protein is shown to be asymmetrically localized in the HCs of the OC, and this asymmetric localization is associated with loss of PCP in Smurf mutants, implying that Prickle1 is involved in HC PCP development in the OC. A follow-up study found no PCP polarity defects after loss of Prickle1 (Prickle1-/-) in the cochlea. We show here strong Prickle1 mRNA expression in the spiral ganglion by in situ hybridization and ?-Gal staining, and weak expression in the OC by ?-Gal staining. Consistent with this limited expression in the OC, cochlear HC PCP is unaffected in either Prickle1C251X/C251X mice or Prickle1f/f; Pax2-cre conditional null mice. Meanwhile, type II afferents of apical spiral ganglion neurons (SGN) innervating outer hair cells (OHC) have unusual neurite growth. In addition, afferents from the apex show unusual collaterals in the cochlear nuclei that overlap with basal turn afferents. Our findings argue against the role of Prickle1 in regulating hair cell polarity in the cochlea. Instead, Prickle1 regulates the polarity-related growth of distal and central processes of apical SGNs.
Project description:Background: For the first time the expression of the ion transport protein sodium/potassium-ATPase and its isoforms was analyzed in the human cochlea using light- and confocal microscopy as well as super-resolution structured illumination microscopy. It may increase our understanding of its role in the propagation and processing of action potentials in the human auditory nerve and how electric nerve responses are elicited from auditory prostheses. Material and methods: Archival human cochlear sections were obtained from trans-cochlear surgeries. Antibodies against the Na/K-ATPase β1 isoform together with α1 and α3 were used for immunohistochemistry. An algorithm was applied to assess the expression in various domains. Results: Na/K ATPase β1 subunit was expressed, mostly combined with the α1 isoform. Neurons expressed the β1 subunit combined with α3, while satellite glial cells expressed the α1 isoform without recognized association with β1. Types I and II spiral ganglion neurons and efferent fibers expressed the Na/K-ATPase α3 subunit. Inner hair cells, nerve fibers underneath, and efferent and afferent fibers in the organ of Corti also expressed α1. The highest activity of Na/K-ATPase β1 was at the inner hair cell/nerve junction and spiral prominence. Conclusion: The human auditory nerve displays distinct morphologic features represented in its molecular expression. It was found that electric signals generated via hair cells may not go uninterrupted across the spiral ganglion, but are locally processed. This may be related to particular filtering properties in the human acoustic pathway.
Project description:The ATP-sensitive P2X2 ionotropic receptor plays a critical role in a number of signal processes including taste and hearing, carotid body detection of hypoxia, the exercise pressor reflex and sensory transduction of mechanical stimuli in the airways and bladder. Elucidation of the role of P2X2 has been hindered by the lack of selective tools. In particular, detection of P2X2 using established pharmacological and biochemical techniques yields dramatically different expression patterns, particularly in the peripheral and central nervous systems. Here, we have developed a knock-in P2X2-cre mouse, which we crossed with a cre-sensitive tdTomato reporter mouse to determine P2X2 expression. P2X2 was found in more than 80% of nodose vagal afferent neurons, but not in jugular vagal afferent neurons. Reporter expression correlated in vagal neurons with sensitivity to ?,? methylene ATP (??mATP). P2X2 was expressed in 75% of petrosal afferents, but only 12% and 4% of dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and trigeminal afferents, respectively. P2X2 expression was limited to very few cell types systemically. Together with the central terminals of P2X2-expressing afferents, reporter expression in the CNS was mainly found in brainstem neurons projecting mossy fibers to the cerebellum, with little expression in the hippocampus or cortex. The structure of peripheral terminals of P2X2-expressing afferents was demonstrated in the tongue (taste buds), carotid body, trachea and esophagus. P2X2 was observed in hair cells and support cells in the cochlear, but not in spiral afferent neurons. This mouse strain provides a novel approach to the identification and manipulation of P2X2-expressing cell types.