(1/11810) Developmental synaptic changes increase the range of integrative capabilities of an identified excitatory neocortical connection.

Excitatory synaptic transmission between pyramidal cells and fast-spiking (FS) interneurons of layer V of the motor cortex was investigated in acute slices by using paired recordings at 30 degrees C combined with morphological analysis. The presynaptic and postsynaptic properties at these identified central synapses were compared between 3- and 5-week-old rats. At these two postnatal developmental stages, unitary EPSCs were mediated by the activation of AMPA receptors with fast kinetics at a holding potential of -72 mV. The amplitude distribution analysis of the EPSCs indicates that, at both stages, pyramidal-FS connections consisted of multiple functional release sites. The apparent quantal size obtained by decreasing the external calcium ([Ca2+]e) varied from 11 to 29 pA near resting membrane potential. In young rats, pairs of presynaptic action potentials elicited unitary synaptic responses that displayed paired-pulse depression at all tested frequencies. In older animals, inputs from different pyramidal cells onto the same FS interneuron had different paired-pulse response characteristics and, at most of these connections, a switch from depression to facilitation occurred when decreasing the rate of presynaptic stimulation. The balance between facilitation and depression endows pyramidal-FS connections from 5-week-old animals with wide integrative capabilities and confers unique functional properties to each synapse.  (+info)

(2/11810) Modulation of long-term synaptic depression in visual cortex by acetylcholine and norepinephrine.

In a slice preparation of rat visual cortex, we discovered that paired-pulse stimulation (PPS) elicits a form of homosynaptic long-term depression (LTD) in the superficial layers when carbachol (CCh) or norepinephrine (NE) is applied concurrently. PPS by itself, or CCh and NE in the absence of synaptic stimulation, produced no lasting change. The LTD induced by PPS in the presence of NE or CCh is of comparable magnitude with that obtained with prolonged low-frequency stimulation (LFS) but requires far fewer stimulation pulses (40 vs 900). The cholinergic facilitation of LTD was blocked by atropine and pirenzepine, suggesting involvement of M1 receptors. The noradrenergic facilitation of LTD was blocked by urapidil and was mimicked by methoxamine, suggesting involvement of alpha1 receptors. beta receptor agonists and antagonists were without effect. Induction of LTD by PPS was inhibited by NMDA receptor blockers (completely in the case of NE; partially in the case of CCh), suggesting that one action of the modulators is to control the gain of NMDA receptor-dependent homosynaptic LTD in visual cortex. We propose that this is a mechanism by which cholinergic and noradrenergic inputs to the neocortex modulate naturally occurring receptive field plasticity.  (+info)

(3/11810) Activity-dependent metaplasticity of inhibitory and excitatory synaptic transmission in the lamprey spinal cord locomotor network.

Paired intracellular recordings have been used to examine the activity-dependent plasticity and neuromodulator-induced metaplasticity of synaptic inputs from identified inhibitory and excitatory interneurons in the lamprey spinal cord. Trains of spikes at 5-20 Hz were used to mimic the frequency of spiking that occurs in network interneurons during NMDA or brainstem-evoked locomotor activity. Inputs from inhibitory and excitatory interneurons exhibited similar activity-dependent changes, with synaptic depression developing during the spike train. The level of depression reached was greater with lower stimulation frequencies. Significant activity-dependent depression of inputs from excitatory interneurons and inhibitory crossed caudal interneurons, which are central elements in the patterning of network activity, usually developed between the fifth and tenth spikes in the train. Because these interneurons typically fire bursts of up to five spikes during locomotor activity, this activity-dependent plasticity will presumably not contribute to the patterning of network activity. However, in the presence of the neuromodulators substance P and 5-HT, significant activity-dependent metaplasticity of these inputs developed over the first five spikes in the train. Substance P induced significant activity-dependent depression of inhibitory but potentiation of excitatory interneuron inputs, whereas 5-HT induced significant activity-dependent potentiation of both inhibitory and excitatory interneuron inputs. Because these metaplastic effects are consistent with the substance P and 5-HT-induced modulation of the network output, activity-dependent metaplasticity could be a potential mechanism underlying the coordination and modulation of rhythmic network activity.  (+info)

(4/11810) even-skipped determines the dorsal growth of motor axons in Drosophila.

Axon pathfinding and target choice are governed by cell type-specific responses to external cues. Here, we show that in the Drosophila embryo, motorneurons with targets in the dorsal muscle field express the homeobox gene even-skipped and that this expression is necessary and sufficient to direct motor axons into the dorsal muscle field. Previously, it was shown that motorneurons projecting to ventral targets express the LIM homeobox gene islet, which is sufficient to direct axons to the ventral muscle field. Thus, even-skipped complements the function of islet, and together these two genes constitute a bimodal switch regulating axonal growth and directing motor axons to ventral or to dorsal regions of the muscle field.  (+info)

(5/11810) Comparative effects of methylmercury on parallel-fiber and climbing-fiber responses of rat cerebellar slices.

The environmental neurotoxicant methylmercury (MeHg) causes profound disruption of cerebellar function. Previous studies have shown that acute exposure to MeHg impairs synaptic transmission in both the peripheral and central nervous systems. However, the effects of MeHg on cerebellar synaptic function have never been examined. In the present study, effects of acute exposure to MeHg on synaptic transmission between parallel fibers or climbing fibers and Purkinje cells were compared in 300- to 350-microm cerebellar slices by using extracellular and intracellular microelectrode-recording techniques. Field potentials of parallel-fiber volleys (PFVs) and the associated postsynaptic responses (PSRs) were recorded in the molecular layer by stimulating the parallel fibers in transverse cerebellar slices. The climbing-fiber responses were also recorded in the molecular layer by stimulating white matter in sagittal cerebellar slices. At 20, 100, and 500 microM, MeHg reduced the amplitude of both PFVs and the associated PSRs to complete block, however, it blocked PSRs more rapidly than PFVs. MeHg also decreased the amplitudes of climbing-fiber responses to complete block. For all responses, an initial increase in amplitude preceded MeHg-induced suppression. Intracellular recordings of excitatory postsynaptic potentials of Purkinje cells were compared before and after MeHg. At 100 microM and 20 microM, MeHg blocked the Na+-dependent, fast somatic spikes and Ca++-dependent, slow dendritic spike bursts. MeHg also hyperpolarized and then depolarized Purkinje cell membranes, suppressed current conduction from parallel fibers or climbing fibers to dendrites of Purkinje cells, and blocked synaptically activated local responses. MeHg switched the pattern of repetitive firing of Purkinje cells generated spontaneously or by depolarizing current injection at Purkinje cell soma from predominantly Na+-dependent, fast somatic spikes to predominantly Ca++-dependent, low amplitude, slow dendritic spike bursts. Thus, acute exposure to MeHg causes a complex pattern of effects on cerebellar synaptic transmission, with apparent actions on both neuronal excitability and chemical synaptic transmission.  (+info)

(6/11810) Impairment of neocortical long-term potentiation in mice deficient of endothelial nitric oxide synthase.

The role of the possible retrograde messenger nitric oxide (NO) in the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) was studied in supragranular layers of somatosensory cortical slices obtained from adult mice. High-frequency stimulation produced a slowly rising, long-lasting (50 min) and significant (P < 0.001) increase in the extracellular synaptic response by 23%. The induction of LTP was independent from activation of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, but prevented by bath application of NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME), indicating that one or several of the different NO synthases (NOS) produced NO within the postsynaptic neuron. No LTP could be induced in knockout mice lacking the endothelial NOS (eNOS) isoform. These data suggest that eNOS is involved in an NMDA receptor-independent form of LTP in the rodent cerebral cortex.  (+info)

(7/11810) Actions of a pair of identified cerebral-buccal interneurons (CBI-8/9) in Aplysia that contain the peptide myomodulin.

A combination of biocytin back-fills of the cerebral-buccal connectives and immunocytochemistry of the cerebral ganglion demonstrated that of the 13 bilateral pairs of cerebral-buccal interneurons in the cerebral ganglion, a subpopulation of 3 are immunopositive for the peptide myomodulin. The present paper describes the properties of two of these cells, which we have termed CBI-8 and CBI-9. CBI-8 and CBI-9 were found to be dye coupled and electrically coupled. The cells have virtually identical properties, and consequently we consider them to be "twin" pairs and refer to them as CBI-8/9. CBI-8/9 were identified by electrophysiological criteria and then labeled with dye. Labeled cells were found to be immunopositive for myomodulin, and, using high pressure liquid chromatography, the cells were shown to contain authentic myomodulin. CBI-8/9 were found to receive synaptic input after mechanical stimulation of the tentacles. They also received excitatory input from C-PR, a neuron involved in neck lengthening, and received a slow inhibitory input from CC5, a cell involved in neck shortening, suggesting that CBI-8/9 may be active during forward movements of the head or buccal mass. Firing of CBI-8 or CBI-9 resulted in the activation of a relatively small number of buccal neurons as evidenced by extracellular recordings from buccal nerves. Firing also produced local movements of the buccal mass, in particular a strong contraction of the I7 muscle, which mediates radula opening. CBI-8/9 were found to produce a slow depolarization and rhythmic activity of B48, the motor neuron for the I7 muscle. The data provide continuing evidence that the small population of cerebral buccal interneurons is composed of neurons that are highly diverse in their functional roles. CBI-8/9 may function as a type of premotor neuron, or perhaps as a peptidergic modulatory neuron, the functions of which are dependent on the coactivity of other neurons.  (+info)

(8/11810) Voltage-dependent properties of dendrites that eliminate location-dependent variability of synaptic input.

We examined the hypothesis that voltage-dependent properties of dendrites allow for the accurate transfer of synaptic information to the soma independent of synapse location. This hypothesis is motivated by experimental evidence that dendrites contain a complex array of voltage-gated channels. How these channels affect synaptic integration is unknown. One hypothesized role for dendritic voltage-gated channels is to counteract passive cable properties, rendering all synapses electrotonically equidistant from the soma. With dendrites modeled as passive cables, the effect a synapse exerts at the soma depends on dendritic location (referred to as location-dependent variability of the synaptic input). In this theoretical study we used a simplified three-compartment model of a neuron to determine the dendritic voltage-dependent properties required for accurate transfer of synaptic information to the soma independent of synapse location. A dendrite that eliminates location-dependent variability requires three components: 1) a steady-state, voltage-dependent inward current that together with the passive leak current provides a net outward current and a zero slope conductance at depolarized potentials, 2) a fast, transient, inward current that compensates for dendritic membrane capacitance, and 3) both alpha amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid- and N-methyl-D-aspartate-like synaptic conductances that together permit synapses to behave as ideal current sources. These components are consistent with the known properties of dendrites. In addition, these results indicate that a dendrite designed to eliminate location-dependent variability also actively back-propagates somatic action potentials.  (+info)