Coordinated calcium signalling in cochlear sensory and non-sensory cells refines afferent innervation of outer hair cells.
ABSTRACT: 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, the sensory cells of the cochlea, the inner hair cells (IHCs), fire spontaneous calcium action potentials. This activity at the pre-hearing stage allows the IHCs to autonomously excite the auditory nerve fibers and hence, represents an efficient mechanism to shape the tonotopic organization along the ascending auditory pathway. Using calcium imaging, we show that the activity in the developing cochlea consists of calcium waves that propagate across the supporting and sensory cells. Both basal and apical IHCs were characterized by similar spontaneous calcium transients interspaced with silent periods, consistent with bursts of action potentials recorded in patch-clamp. In addition, adjacent auditory hair cells tend to have a synchronized [Ca2+]i activity, irrespective of their location along the base-to-apex gradient of the cochlea. Finally, we show that the mechanical ablation of the inner phalangeal cells (IPCs), a class of supporting cells, reduces the synchronized [Ca2+]i activity between neighboring sensory cells. These findings support the hypothesis that the tonotopic map refinement in higher auditory centers would depend on the synchronization of a discrete number of auditory 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:KEY POINTS:The physiological maturation of auditory hair cells and their innervation requires precise temporal and spatial control of cell differentiation. The transcription factor gata3 is essential for the earliest stages of auditory system development and for survival and synaptogenesis in auditory sensory afferent neurons. We show that during postnatal development in the mouse inner ear gata3 is required for the biophysical maturation, growth and innervation of inner hair cells; in contrast, it is required only for the survival of outer hair cells. Loss of gata3 in inner hair cells causes progressive hearing loss and accounts for at least some of the deafness associated with the human hypoparathyroidism, deafness and renal anomaly (HDR) syndrome. The results show that gata3 is critical for later stages of mammalian auditory system development where it plays distinct, complementary roles in the coordinated maturation of sensory hair cells and their innervation. ABSTRACT:The zinc finger transcription factor gata3 regulates inner ear development from the formation of the embryonic otic placode. Throughout development, gata3 is expressed dynamically in all the major cochlear cell types. Its role in afferent formation is well established but its possible involvement in hair cell maturation remains unknown. Here, we find that in heterozygous gata3 null mice (gata3+/- ) outer hair cells (OHCs) differentiate normally but their numbers are significantly lower. In contrast, inner hair cells (IHCs) survive normally but they fail to acquire adult basolateral membrane currents, retain pre-hearing current and efferent innervation profiles and have fewer ribbon synapses. Targeted deletion of gata3 driven by otoferlin-cre recombinase (gata3fl/fl otof-cre+/- ) in IHCs does not affect OHCs or the number of IHC afferent synapses but it leads to a failure in IHC maturation comparable to that observed in gata3+/- mice. Auditory brainstem responses in gata3fl/fl otof-cre+/- mice reveal progressive hearing loss that becomes profound by 6-7 months, whilst distortion product otoacoustic emissions are no different to control animals up to this age. Our results, alongside existing data, indicate that gata3 has specific, complementary functions in different cell types during inner ear development and that its continued expression in the sensory epithelium orchestrates critical aspects of physiological development and neural connectivity. Furthermore, our work indicates that hearing loss in human hypoparathyroidism, deafness and renal anomaly (HDR) syndrome arises from functional deficits in IHCs as well as loss of function from OHCs and both afferent and efferent neurons.
Project description:Synchronized gamma frequency oscillations in neural networks are thought to be important to sensory information processing, and their effects have been intensively studied. Here we describe a mechanism by which the nervous system can readily control gamma oscillation effects, depending selectively on visual stimuli. Using a model neural network simulation, we found that sensory response in the primary visual cortex is significantly modulated by the resonance between "spontaneous" and "stimulus-driven" oscillations. This gamma resonance can be precisely controlled by the synaptic plasticity of thalamocortical connections, and cortical response is regulated differentially according to the resonance condition. The mechanism produces a selective synchronization between the afferent and downstream neural population. Our simulation results explain experimental observations such as stimulus-dependent synchronization between the thalamus and the cortex at different oscillation frequencies. The model generally shows how sensory information can be selectively routed depending on its frequency components.
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:KCNQ4 is an M-type K+ channel expressed in sensory hair cells of the inner ear and in the central auditory pathway. KCNQ4 mutations underlie human DFNA2 dominant progressive hearing loss. We now generated mice in which the KCNQ4 gene was disrupted or carried a dominant negative DFNA2 mutation. Although KCNQ4 is strongly expressed in vestibular hair cells, vestibular function appeared normal. Auditory function was only slightly impaired initially. It then declined over several weeks in Kcnq4-/- mice and over several months in mice carrying the dominant negative allele. This progressive hearing loss was paralleled by a selective degeneration of outer hair cells (OHCs). KCNQ4 disruption abolished the I(K,n) current of OHCs. The ensuing depolarization of OHCs impaired sound amplification. Inner hair cells and their afferent synapses remained mostly intact. These cells were only slightly depolarized and showed near-normal presynaptic function. We conclude that the hearing loss in DFNA2 is predominantly caused by a slow degeneration of OHCs resulting from chronic depolarization.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Activity in neurons drives afferent competition that is critical for the refinement of nascent neural circuits. In ferrets, when an eye is lost in early development, surviving retinogeniculate afferents from the spared eye spread across the thalamus in a manner that is dependent on spontaneous retinal activity. However, how this spontaneous activity, also known as retinal waves, might dynamically regulate afferent terminal targeting remains unknown. METHODS:We recorded retinal waves from retinae ex vivo using multi-electrode arrays. Retinae came from ferrets who were binocular or who had one eye surgically removed at birth. Linear mixed effects models were used to investigate the effects of early monocular enucleation on retinal wave activity. RESULTS:When an eye is removed at birth, spontaneous bursts of action potentials by retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) in the surviving eye are shorter in duration. The shortening of RGC burst duration results in decreased pairwise RGC correlations across the retina and is associated with the retinal wave-dependent spread of retinogeniculate afferents previously reported in enucleates. CONCLUSION:Our findings show that removal of the competing eye modulates retinal waves and could underlie the dynamic regulation of competition-based refinement during retinogeniculate development.
Project description:Spontaneous waves of activity propagating across large cortical areas may play important roles in sensory processing and circuit refinement. However, whether these waves are in turn shaped by sensory experience remains unclear. Here we report that visually evoked cortical activity reverberates in subsequent spontaneous waves. Voltage-sensitive dye imaging in rat visual cortex shows that following repetitive presentation of a given visual stimulus, spatiotemporal activity patterns resembling the evoked response appear more frequently in the spontaneous waves. This effect is specific to the response pattern evoked by the repeated stimulus, and it persists for several minutes without further visual stimulation. Such wave-mediated reverberation could contribute to short-term memory and help to consolidate the transient effects of recent sensory experience into long-lasting cortical modifications.
Project description:Longitudinal axon fascicles within the Drosophila embryonic CNS provide connections between body segments and are required for coordinated neural signaling along the anterior-posterior axis. We show here that establishment of select CNS longitudinal tracts and formation of precise mechanosensory afferent innervation to the same CNS region are coordinately regulated by the secreted semaphorins Sema-2a and Sema-2b. Both Sema-2a and Sema-2b utilize the same neuronal receptor, plexin B (PlexB), but serve distinct guidance functions. Localized Sema-2b attraction promotes the initial assembly of a subset of CNS longitudinal projections and subsequent targeting of chordotonal sensory afferent axons to these same longitudinal connectives, whereas broader Sema-2a repulsion serves to prevent aberrant innervation. In the absence of Sema-2b or PlexB, chordotonal afferent connectivity within the CNS is severely disrupted, resulting in specific larval behavioral deficits. These results reveal that distinct semaphorin-mediated guidance functions converge at PlexB and are critical for functional neural circuit assembly.
Project description:Individual striatal neurons integrate somatosensory information from both sides of the body, however, the afferent pathways mediating these bilateral responses are unclear. Whereas ipsilateral corticostriatal projections are prevalent throughout the neocortex, contralateral projections provide sparse input from primary sensory cortices, in contrast to the dense innervation from motor and frontal regions. There is, therefore, an apparent discrepancy between the observed anatomical pathways and the recorded striatal responses. We used simultaneous in vivo whole-cell and extracellular recordings combined with focal cortical silencing, to dissect the afferent pathways underlying bilateral sensory integration in the mouse striatum. We show that unlike direct corticostriatal projections mediating responses to contralateral whisker deflection, responses to ipsilateral stimuli are mediated mainly by intracortical projections from the contralateral somatosensory cortex (S1). The dominant pathway is the callosal projection from contralateral to ipsilateral S1. Our results suggest a functional difference between the cortico-basal ganglia pathways underlying bilateral sensory and motor processes.