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During cortical development, the identity of major classes of long-distance projection neurons is established by the expression of molecular determinants, which become gradually restricted and mutually exclusive. However, the mechanisms by which projection neurons acquire their final properties during postnatal stages are still poorly understood. In this study, we show that the number of neurons co-expressing Ctip2 and Satb2, respectively involved in the early specification of subcerebral and callosal projection neurons, progressively increases after birth in the somatosensory cortex. Ctip2/Satb2 postnatal co-localization defines two distinct neuronal subclasses projecting either to the contralateral cortex or to the brainstem suggesting that Ctip2/Satb2 co-expression may refine their properties rather than determine their identity. Gain- and loss-of-function approaches reveal that the transcriptional adaptor Lmo4 drives this maturation program through modulation of epigenetic mechanisms in a time- and area-specific manner, thereby indicating that a previously unknown genetic program postnatally promotes the acquisition of final subtype-specific features.
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The auditory cortex is well-known to be critical for music perception, including the perception of consonance and dissonance. Studies on the neural correlates of consonance and dissonance perception have largely employed non-invasive electrophysiological and functional imaging techniques in humans as well as neurophysiological recordings in animals, but the fine-grained spatiotemporal dynamics within the human auditory cortex remain unknown. We recorded electrocorticographic (ECoG) signals directly from the lateral surface of either the left or right temporal lobe of eight patients undergoing neurosurgical treatment as they passively listened to highly consonant and highly dissonant musical chords. We assessed ECoG activity in the high gamma (γhigh, 70-150 Hz) frequency range within the superior temporal gyrus (STG) and observed two types of cortical sites of interest in both hemispheres: one type showed no significant difference in γhigh activity between consonant and dissonant chords, and another type showed increased γhigh responses to dissonant chords between 75 and 200 ms post-stimulus onset. Furthermore, a subset of these sites exhibited additional sensitivity towards different types of dissonant chords, and a positive correlation between changes in γhigh power and the degree of stimulus roughness was observed in both hemispheres. We also observed a distinct spatial organization of cortical sites in the right STG, with dissonant-sensitive sites located anterior to non-sensitive sites. In sum, these findings demonstrate differential processing of consonance and dissonance in bilateral STG with the right hemisphere exhibiting robust and spatially organized sensitivity toward dissonance.
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The last two decades of research provided evidence for a substantial heterogeneity among feeding-related neurons (FRNs) in the hypothalamus. However, it remains unclear how FRNs differ in their firing patterns during food intake. Here, we investigated the relationship between the activity of neurons in mouse hypothalamus and their feeding behavior. Using tetrode-based in vivo recording technique, we identified various firing patterns of hypothalamic FRNs, which, after the initiation of food intake, can be sorted into four types: sharp increase (type I), slow increase (type II), sharp decrease (type III), and sustained decrease (type IV) of firing rates. The feeding-related firing response of FRNs was rigidly related to the duration of food intake and, to a less extent, associated with the type of food. The majority of these FRNs responded to glucose and leptin and exhibited electrophysiological characteristics of putative GABAergic neurons. In conclusion, our study demonstrated the diversity of neurons in the complex hypothalamic network coordinating food intake.
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Circadian rhythms regulate bodily functions within 24 h and long-term disruptions in these rhythms can cause various diseases. Recently, the peripheral auditory organ, the cochlea, has been shown to contain a self-sustained circadian clock that regulates differential sensitivity to noise exposure throughout the day. Animals exposed to noise during the night are more vulnerable than when exposed during the day. However, whether other structures throughout the auditory pathway also possess a circadian clock remains unknown. Here, we focus on the inferior colliculus (IC), which plays an important role in noise-induced pathologies such as tinnitus, hyperacusis, and audiogenic seizures. Using PER2::LUC transgenic mice and real-time bioluminescence recordings, we revealed circadian oscillations of Period 2 protein in IC explants for up to 1 week. Clock genes (Cry1, Bmal1, Per1, Per2, Rev-erbα, and Dbp) displayed circadian molecular oscillations in the IC. Averaged expression levels of early-induced genes and clock genes during 24 h revealed differential responses to day or night noise exposure. Rev-erbα and Dbp genes were affected only by day noise exposure, whereas Per1 and Per2 were affected only by night noise exposure. However, the expression of Bdnf was affected by both day and night noise exposure, suggesting that plastic changes are unlikely to be involved in the differences in day or night noise sensitivity in the IC. These novel findings highlight the importance of circadian responses in the IC and emphasize the importance of circadian mechanisms for understanding central auditory function and disorders. Recent findings identified the presence of a circadian clock in the inner ear. Here, we present novel findings that neurons in the inferior colliculus (IC), a central auditory relay structure involved in sound processing, express a circadian clock as evidenced at both the mRNA and protein levels. Using a reporter mouse that expresses a luciferase protein coupled to the core clock protein PERIOD2 (PER2::LUC), we could observe spontaneous circadian oscillations in culture. Furthermore, we reveal that the mRNA profile of clock-related genes in the IC is altered differentially by day or night noise exposure. The identification of a clock in the IC is relevant for understanding the mechanisms underlying dysfunctions of the IC such as tinnitus, hyperacusis, or audiogenic seizures.
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Posterior parietal cortex (PPC) of prosimian galagos includes a rostral portion (PPCr) where electrical stimulation evokes different classes of complex movements from different subregions, and a caudal portion (PPCc) where such stimulation fails to evoke movements in anesthetized preparations ( Stepniewska, Fang et al. 2009). We placed tracer injections into PPCc to reveal patterns of its cortical connections. There were widespread connections within PPCc as well as connections with PPCr and extrastriate visual areas, including V2 and V3. Weaker connections were with dorsal premotor cortex, and the frontal eye field. The connections of different parts of PPCc with visual areas were roughly retinotopic such that injections to dorsal PPCc labeled more neurons in the dorsal portions of visual areas, representing lower visual quadrant, and injections to ventral PPCc labeled more neurons in ventral portions of these visual areas, representing the upper visual quadrant. We conclude that much of the PPCc contains a crude representation of the contralateral visual hemifield, with inputs largely, but not exclusively, from higher-order visual areas that are considered part of the dorsal visuomotor processing stream. As in galagos, the caudal half of PPC was likely visual in early primates, with the rostral PPC half mediating sensorimotor functions.
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Long-term potentiation of excitatory synapses on pyramidal neurons in the stratum radiatum rarely occurs in hippocampal area CA2. Here, we present evidence that perineuronal nets (PNNs), a specialized extracellular matrix typically localized around inhibitory neurons, also surround mouse CA2 pyramidal neurons and envelop their excitatory synapses. CA2 pyramidal neurons express mRNA transcripts for the major PNN component aggrecan, identifying these neurons as a novel source for PNNs in the hippocampus. We also found that disruption of PNNs allows synaptic potentiation of normally plasticity-resistant excitatory CA2 synapses; thus, PNNs play a role in restricting synaptic plasticity in area CA2. Finally, we found that postnatal development of PNNs on CA2 pyramidal neurons is modified by early-life enrichment, suggesting that the development of circuits containing CA2 excitatory synapses are sensitive to manipulations of the rearing environment. Perineuronal nets (PNNs) are thought to play a major role in restricting synaptic plasticity during postnatal development, and are altered in several models of neurodevelopmental disorders, such as schizophrenia and Rett syndrome. Although PNNs have been predominantly studied in association with inhibitory neurons throughout the brain, we describe a dense expression of PNNs around excitatory pyramidal neurons in hippocampal area CA2. We also provide insight into a previously unrecognized role for PNNs in restricting plasticity at excitatory synapses and raise the possibility of an early critical period of hippocampal plasticity that may ultimately reveal a key mechanism underlying learning and memory impairments of PNN-associated neurodevelopmental disorders.
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Interneurons (INs) of the hippocampus exert versatile inhibition on pyramidal cells by silencing the network at different oscillation frequencies. Although IN discharge can phase-lock to various rhythms in the hippocampus, under high-frequency axon firing, the boutons may not be able to follow the fast activity. Here, we studied Ca(2+) responses to action potentials (APs) in single boutons using combined two-photon microscopy and patch clamp electrophysiology in three types of INs: non-fast-spiking (NFS) neurons showing cannabinoid 1 receptor labelling and dendrite targeting, fast-spiking partially parvalbumin-positive cells synapsing with dendrites (DFS), and parvalbumin-positive cells with perisomatic innervation (PFS). The increase in [Ca(2+) ]i from AP trains was substantially higher in NFS boutons than in DFS or PFS boutons. The decay of bouton Ca(2+) responses was markedly faster in DFS and PFS cells compared with NFS neurons. The bouton-to-bouton variability of AP-evoked Ca(2+) transients in the same axon was surprisingly low in each cell type. Importantly, local responses were saturated after shorter trains of APs in NFS cells than in PFS cells. This feature of fast-spiking neurons might allow them to follow higher-frequency gamma oscillations for a longer time than NFS cells. The function of NFS boutons may better support asynchronous GABA release. In conclusion, we demonstrate several neuron-specific Ca(2+) transients in boutons of NFS, PFS and DFS neurons, which may serve differential functions in hippocampal networks.
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Astrocytes tile the entire CNS, but their functions within neural circuits in health and disease remain incompletely understood. We used genetically encoded Ca(2+)and glutamate indicators to explore the rules for astrocyte engagement in the corticostriatal circuit of adult wild-type (WT) and Huntington's disease (HD) model mice at ages not accompanied by overt astrogliosis (at approximately postnatal days 70-80). WT striatal astrocytes displayed extensive spontaneous Ca(2+)signals, but did not respond to cortical stimulation, implying that astrocytes were largely disengaged from cortical input in healthy tissue. In contrast, in HD model mice, spontaneous Ca(2+)signals were significantly reduced in frequency, duration, and amplitude, but astrocytes responded robustly to cortical stimulation with evoked Ca(2+)signals. These action-potential-dependent astrocyte Ca(2+)signals were mediated by neuronal glutamate release during cortical stimulation, accompanied by prolonged extracellular glutamate levels near astrocytes and tightly gated by Glt1 glutamate transporters. Moreover, dysfunctional Ca(2+)and glutamate signaling that was observed in HD model mice was largely, but not completely, rescued by astrocyte specific restoration of Kir4.1, emphasizing the important contributions of K(+)homeostatic mechanisms that are known to be reduced in HD model mice. Overall, our data show that astrocyte engagement in the corticostriatal circuit is markedly altered in HD. Such prodromal astrocyte dysfunctions may represent novel therapeutic targets in HD and other brain disorders. We report how early-onset astrocyte dysfunction without detectable astrogliosis drives disease-related processes in a mouse model of Huntington's disease (HD). The cellular mechanisms involve astrocyte homeostasis and signaling mediated by Kir4.1, Glt1, and Ca(2+) The data show that the rules for astrocyte engagement in a neuronal circuit are fundamentally altered in a brain disease caused by a known molecular defect and that fixing early homeostasis dysfunction remedies additional cellular deficits. Overall, our data suggest that key aspects of altered striatal function associated with HD may be triggered, at least in part, by dysfunctional astrocytes, thereby providing details of an emerging striatal microcircuit mechanism in HD. Such prodromal changes in astrocytes may represent novel therapeutic targets.
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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are overlapping neurodegenerative disorders whose pathogenesis remains largely unknown. Using TDP-43(A315T) mice, an ALS and FTD model with marked cortical pathology, we found that hyperactive somatostatin interneurons disinhibited layer 5 pyramidal neurons (L5-PNs) and contributed to their excitotoxicity. Focal ablation of somatostatin interneurons efficiently restored normal excitability of L5-PNs and alleviated neurodegeneration, suggesting a new therapeutic target for ALS and FTD.
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This study aimed to determine differences in spinal motoneuron dysfunction between the abductor pollicis brevis (APB) and the abductor digiti minimi (ADM) in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients based on studying F-waves. Forty ALS patients and 20 normal controls (NCs) underwent motor nerve conduction studies on both median and ulnar nerves, including F-waves elicited by 100 electrical stimuli. The F-wave persistence (P < 0.05), index repeating neuron (RN; P < 0.001), and index repeater F-waves (Freps; P < 0.001) significantly differed between the APB and the ADM in the NC participants. For the hands of the ALS patients that lacked detectable wasting or weakness and exhibited either no or mild impairment of discrete finger movements, significantly reduced F-wave persistence (P < 0.001), increased index RN (P < 0.001), and increased index Freps (P < 0.001) were observed in APB in comparison with the normal participants, with relatively normal ADM F-wave parameters. For the hands of ALS patients that exhibited wasting and weakness, the mean F-wave amplitude (P < 0.05), the F/M amplitude ratio (P < 0.05), F-wave persistence (P < 0.001), index RN (P < 0.05), and index Freps (P < 0.05) significantly differed between APB and ADM. The differences in the dysfunction of motoneurons innervating APB and ADM are unique manifestations in ALS patients. The F-wave persistence (P = 0.002), index RN (P < 0.001), and index Freps (P < 0.001) in the APB seemed to differentiate ALS from the NCs more robustly than the ADM/APB Compound muscle action potential (CMAP) amplitude ratio. Thus, F-waves may reveal subclinical alterations in anterior horn cells, and may potentially help to distinguish ALS from mimic disorders.
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