Matching Items (14)

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Evaluating and controlling glioblastoma infiltration

Description

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common primary brain tumor with an incidence of approximately 11,000 Americans. Despite decades of research, average survival for GBM patients is a modest 15 months. Increasing the extent of GBM resection increases patient survival. However,

Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common primary brain tumor with an incidence of approximately 11,000 Americans. Despite decades of research, average survival for GBM patients is a modest 15 months. Increasing the extent of GBM resection increases patient survival. However, extending neurosurgical margins also threatens the removal of eloquent brain. For this reason, the infiltrative nature of GBM is an obstacle to its complete resection. We hypothesize that targeting genes and proteins that regulate GBM motility, and developing techniques that safely enhance extent of surgical resection, will improve GBM patient survival by decreasing infiltration into eloquent brain regions and enhancing tumor cytoreduction during surgery. Chapter 2 of this dissertation describes a gene and protein we identified; aquaporin-1 (aqp1) that enhances infiltration of GBM. In chapter 3, we describe a method for enhancing the diagnostic yield of GBM patient biopsies which will assist in identifying future molecular targets for GBM therapies. In chapter 4 we develop an intraoperative optical imaging technique that will assist identifying GBM and its infiltrative margins during surgical resection. The topic of this dissertation aims to target glioblastoma infiltration from molecular and cellular biology and neurosurgical disciplines. In the introduction we; 1. Provide a background of GBM and current therapies. 2. Discuss a protein we found that decreases GBM survival. 3. Describe an imaging modality we utilized for improving the quality of accrued patient GBM samples. 4. We provide an overview of intraoperative contrast agents available for neurosurgical resection of GBM, and discuss a new agent we studied for intraoperative visualization of GBM.

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Date Created
2014

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The temporal organization of operant behavior: a response bout analysis

Description

Many behaviors are organized into bouts – brief periods of responding punctuated by pauses. This dissertation examines the operant bouts of the lever pressing rat. Chapter 1 provides a brief history of operant response bout analyses. Chapters 2, 3, 5,

Many behaviors are organized into bouts – brief periods of responding punctuated by pauses. This dissertation examines the operant bouts of the lever pressing rat. Chapter 1 provides a brief history of operant response bout analyses. Chapters 2, 3, 5, and 6 develop new probabilistic models to identify changes in response bout parameters. The parameters of those models are demonstrated to be uniquely sensitive to different experimental manipulations, such as food deprivation (Chapters 2 and 4), response requirements (Chapters 2, 4, and 5), and reinforcer availability (Chapters 2 and 3). Chapter 6 reveals the response bout parameters that underlie the operant hyperactivity of a common rodent model of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), the spontaneously hypertensive rat (SHR). Chapter 6 then ameliorates the SHR’s operant hyperactivity using training procedures developed from findings in Chapters 2 and 4. Collectively, this dissertation provides new tools for the assessment of response bouts and demonstrates their utility for discerning differences between experimental preparations and animal strains that may be otherwise indistinguishable with more primitive methods.

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Date Created
2015

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A single neuron model to study the mechanisms and functions of dendritic development

Description

Dendrites are the structures of a neuron specialized to receive input signals and to provide the substrate for the formation of synaptic contacts with other cells. The goal of this work is to study the activity-dependent mechanisms underlying dendritic growth

Dendrites are the structures of a neuron specialized to receive input signals and to provide the substrate for the formation of synaptic contacts with other cells. The goal of this work is to study the activity-dependent mechanisms underlying dendritic growth in a single-cell model. For this, the individually identifiable adult motoneuron, MN5, in Drosophila melanogaster was used. This dissertation presents the following results. First, the natural variability of morphological parameters of the MN5 dendritic tree in control flies is not larger than 15%, making MN5 a suitable model for quantitative morphological analysis. Second, three-dimensional topological analyses reveals that different parts of the MN5 dendritic tree innervate spatially separated areas (termed "isoneuronal tiling"). Third, genetic manipulation of the MN5 excitability reveals that both increased and decreased activity lead to dendritic overgrowth; whereas decreased excitability promoted branch elongation, increased excitability enhanced dendritic branching. Next, testing the activity-regulated transcription factor AP-1 for its role in MN5 dendritic development reveals that neural activity enhanced AP-1 transcriptional activity, and that AP-1 expression lead to opposite dendrite fates depending on its expression timing during development. Whereas overexpression of AP-1 at early stages results in loss of dendrites, AP-1 overexpression after the expression of acetylcholine receptors and the formation of all primary dendrites in MN5 causes overgrowth. Fourth, MN5 has been used to examine dendritic development resulting from the expression of the human gene MeCP2, a transcriptional regulator involved in the neurodevelopmental disease Rett syndrome. Targeted expression of full-length human MeCP2 in MN5 causes impaired dendritic growth, showing for the first time the cellular consequences of MeCP2 expression in Drosophila neurons. This dendritic phenotype requires the methyl-binding domain of MeCP2 and the chromatin remodeling protein Osa. In summary, this work has fully established MN5 as a single-neuron model to study mechanisms underlying dendrite development, maintenance and degeneration, and to test the behavioral consequences resulting from dendritic growth misregulation. Furthermore, this thesis provides quantitative description of isoneuronal tiling of a central neuron, offers novel insight into activity- and AP-1 dependent developmental plasticity, and finally, it establishes Drosophila MN5 as a model to study some specific aspects of human diseases.

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Date Created
2012

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Calcium-mediated excitation and plasticity in primary olfactory pathways of the honey bee antennal lobe

Description

Spatiotemporal processing in the mammalian olfactory bulb (OB), and its analog, the invertebrate antennal lobe (AL), is subject to plasticity driven by biogenic amines. I study plasticity using honey bees, which have been extensively studied with respect to nonassociative and

Spatiotemporal processing in the mammalian olfactory bulb (OB), and its analog, the invertebrate antennal lobe (AL), is subject to plasticity driven by biogenic amines. I study plasticity using honey bees, which have been extensively studied with respect to nonassociative and associative based olfactory learning and memory. Octopamine (OA) release in the AL is the functional analog to epinephrine in the OB. Blockade of OA receptors in the AL blocks plasticity induced changes in behavior. I have now begun to test specific hypotheses related to how this biogenic amine might be involved in plasticity in neural circuits within the AL. OA acts via different receptor subtypes, AmOA1, which gates calcium release from intracellular stores, and AmOA-beta, which results in an increase of cAMP. Calcium also enters AL interneurons via nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, which are driven by acetylcholine release from sensory neuron terminals, as well as through voltage-gated calcium channels. I employ 2-photon excitation (2PE) microscopy using fluorescent calcium indicators to investigate potential sources of plasticity as revealed by calcium fluctuations in AL projection neuron (PN) dendrites in vivo. PNs are analogous to mitral cells in the OB and have dendritic processes that show calcium increases in response to odor stimulation. These calcium signals frequently change after association of odor with appetitive reinforcement. However, it is unclear whether the reported plasticity in calcium signals are due to changes intrinsic to the PNs or to changes in other neural components of the network. My studies were aimed toward understanding the role of OA for establishing associative plasticity in the AL network. Accordingly, I developed a treatment that isolates intact, functioning PNs in vivo. A second study revealed that cAMP is a likely component of plasticity in the AL, thus implicating the AmOA-beta; receptors. Finally, I developed a method for loading calcium indicators into neural components of the AL that have yet to be studied in detail. These manipulations are now revealing the molecular mechanisms contributing to associative plasticity in the AL. These studies will allow for a greater understanding of plasticity in several neural components of the honey bee AL and mammalian OB.

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Date Created
2014

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Iridescent, distasteful, and blue: effectiveness of short-wavelength, iridescent coloration as a warning signal in the Pipevine Swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor)

Description

Warning coloration deters predators from attacking prey that are defended, usually by being distasteful, toxic, or otherwise costly for predators to pursue and consume. Predators may have an innate response to warning colors or learn to associate them with a

Warning coloration deters predators from attacking prey that are defended, usually by being distasteful, toxic, or otherwise costly for predators to pursue and consume. Predators may have an innate response to warning colors or learn to associate them with a defense through trial and error. In general, predators should select for warning signals that are easy to learn and recognize. Previous research demonstrates long-wavelength colors (e.g. red and yellow) are effective because they are readily detected and learned. However, a number of defended animals display short-wavelength coloration (e.g. blue and violet), such as the pipevine swallowtail butterfly (Battus philenor). The role of blue coloration in warning signals had not previously been explicitly tested. My research showed in laboratory experiments that curve-billed thrashers (Toxostoma curvirostre) and Gambel's quail (Callipepla gambelii) can learn and recognize the iridescent blue of B. philenor as a warning signal and that it is innately avoided. I tested the attack rates of these colors in the field and blue was not as effective as orange. I concluded that blue colors may function as warning signals, but the effectiveness is likely dependent on the context and predator.

Blue colors are often iridescent in nature and the effect of iridescence on warning signal function was unknown. I reared B. philenor larvae under varied food deprivation treatments. Iridescent colors did not have more variation than pigment-based colors under these conditions; variation which could affect predator learning. Learning could also be affected by changes in appearance, as iridescent colors change in both hue and brightness as the angle of illuminating light and viewer change in relation to the color surface. Iridescent colors can also be much brighter than pigment-based colors and iridescent animals can statically display different hues. I tested these potential effects on warning signal learning by domestic chickens (Gallus gallus domesticus) and found that variation due to the directionality of iridescence and a brighter warning signal did not influence learning. However, blue-violet was learned more readily than blue-green. These experiments revealed that the directionality of iridescent coloration does not likely negatively affect its potential effectiveness as a warning signal.

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Date Created
2015

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Neuromodulation of olfactory learning by serotonergic signaling at glomerular synapses reveals a peripheral sensory gating mechanism

Description

Sensory gating is a process by which the nervous system preferentially admits stimuli that are important for the organism while filtering out those that may be meaningless. An optimal sensory gate cannot be static or inflexible, but rather plastic and

Sensory gating is a process by which the nervous system preferentially admits stimuli that are important for the organism while filtering out those that may be meaningless. An optimal sensory gate cannot be static or inflexible, but rather plastic and informed by past experiences. Learning enables sensory gates to recognize stimuli that are emotionally salient and potentially predictive of positive or negative outcomes essential to survival. Olfaction is the only sensory modality in mammals where sensory inputs bypass conventional thalamic gating before entering higher emotional or cognitive brain regions. Thus, olfactory bulb circuits may have a heavier burden of sensory gating compared to other primary sensory circuits. How do the primary synapses in an olfactory system "learn"' in order to optimally gate or filter sensory stimuli? I hypothesize that centrifugal neuromodulator serotonin serves as a signaling mechanism by which primary olfactory circuits can experience learning informed sensory gating. To test my hypothesis, I conditioned genetically-modified mice using reward or fear olfactory-cued learning paradigms and used pharmacological, electrophysiological, immunohistochemical, and optical imaging approaches to assay changes in serotonin signaling or functional changes in primary olfactory circuits. My results indicate serotonin is a key mediator in the acquisition of olfactory fear memories through the activation of its type 2A receptors in the olfactory bulb. Functionally within the first synaptic relay of olfactory glomeruli, serotonin type 2A receptor activation decreases excitatory glutamatergic drive of olfactory sensory neurons through both presynaptic and postsynaptic mechanisms. I propose that serotonergic signaling decreases excitatory drive, thereby disconnecting olfactory sensory neurons from odor responses once information is learned and its behavioral significance is consolidated. I found that learning induced chronic changes in the density of serotonin fibers and receptors, which persisted in glomeruli encoding the conditioning odor. Such persistent changes could represent a sensory gate stabilized by memory. I hypothesize this ensures that the glomerulus encoding meaningful odors are much more sensitive to future serotonin signaling as such arousal cues arrive from centrifugal pathways originating in the dorsal raphe nucleus. The results advocate that a simple associative memory trace can be formed at primary sensory synapses to facilitate optimal sensory gating in mammalian olfaction.

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Date Created
2012

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Cortical and thalamic contribution to visual and somatosensory control of locomotion in the cat

Description

Navigation through natural environments requires continuous sensory guidance. In addition to coordinated muscle contractions of the limbs that are controlled by spinal cord, equilibrium, body weight bearing and transfer, and avoidance of obstacles all have to happen while locomotion is

Navigation through natural environments requires continuous sensory guidance. In addition to coordinated muscle contractions of the limbs that are controlled by spinal cord, equilibrium, body weight bearing and transfer, and avoidance of obstacles all have to happen while locomotion is in progress and these are controlled by the supraspinal centers.

For successful locomotion, animals require visual and somatosensory information. Even though a number of supraspinal centers receive both in varying degrees, processing this information at different levels of the central nervous system, especially their contribution to visuo-motor and sensory-motor integration during locomotion is poorly understood.

This dissertation investigates the patterns of neuronal activity in three areas of the forebrain in the cat performing different locomotor tasks to elucidate involvement of these areas in processing of visual and somatosensory information related to locomotion. In three studies, animals performed two contrasting locomotor tasks in each and the neuronal activities were analyzed.

In the first study, cats walked in either complete darkness or in an illuminated room while the neuronal activity of the motor cortex was recorded. This study revealed that the neuronal discharge patterns in the motor cortex were significantly different between the two illumination conditions. The mean discharge rates, modulation, and other variables were significantly different in 49% of the neurons. This suggests a contextual correlation between the motor cortical activity and being able to see.

In two other studies, the activities of neurons of either the somatosensory cortex (SI) or ventrolateral thalamus (VL) were recorded while cats walked on a flat surface (simple locomotion) or along a horizontal ladder where continuous visual and somatosensory feedback was required (complex locomotion).

We found that the activity of all but one SI cells with receptive fields on the sole peaked before the foot touched the ground: predictably. Other cells showed various patterns of modulation, which differed between simple and complex locomotion. We discuss the predictive and reflective functionality of the SI in cyclical sensory-motor events such as locomotion.

We found that neuronal discharges in the VL were modulated to the stride cycle resembling patterns observed in the cortex that receives direct inputs from the VL. The modulation was stronger during walking on the ladder revealing VL’s contribution to locomotion-related activity of the cortex during precision stepping.

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Date Created
2016

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Towards brains in the cloud: a biophysically realistic computational model of olfactory bulb

Description

The increasing availability of experimental data and computational power have resulted in increasingly detailed and sophisticated models of brain structures. Biophysically realistic models allow detailed investigations of the mechanisms that operate within those structures. In this work, published mouse experimental

The increasing availability of experimental data and computational power have resulted in increasingly detailed and sophisticated models of brain structures. Biophysically realistic models allow detailed investigations of the mechanisms that operate within those structures. In this work, published mouse experimental data were synthesized to develop an extensible, open-source platform for modeling the mouse main olfactory bulb and other brain regions. A “virtual slice” model of a main olfactory bulb glomerular column that includes detailed models of tufted, mitral, and granule cells was created to investigate the underlying mechanisms of a gamma frequency oscillation pattern (“gamma fingerprint”) often observed in rodent bulbar local field potential recordings. The gamma fingerprint was reproduced by the model and a mechanistic hypothesis to explain aspects of the fingerprint was developed. A series of computational experiments tested the hypothesis. The results demonstrate the importance of interactions between electrical synapses, principal cell synaptic input strength differences, and granule cell inhibition in the formation of the gamma fingerprint. The model, data, results, and reproduction materials are accessible at https://github.com/justasb/olfactorybulb. The discussion includes a detailed description of mechanisms underlying the gamma fingerprint and how the model predictions can be tested experimentally. In summary, the modeling platform can be extended to include other types of cells, mechanisms and brain regions and can be used to investigate a wide range of experimentally testable hypotheses.

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Date Created
2019

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The function of tyramine in the mouse uterine horn

Description

Pregnancy and childbirth are both natural occurring events, but still little is known about the signaling mechanisms that induce contractions. Throughout the world, premature labor occurs in 12% of all pregnancies with 36% of infant deaths resulting from preterm

Pregnancy and childbirth are both natural occurring events, but still little is known about the signaling mechanisms that induce contractions. Throughout the world, premature labor occurs in 12% of all pregnancies with 36% of infant deaths resulting from preterm related causes. Even though the cause of preterm labor can vary, understanding alternative signaling pathways, which affect muscle contraction, could provide additional treatment options in stopping premature labor. The uterus is composed of smooth muscle, which is innervated, with a plexus of nerves that cover the muscle fibers. Smooth muscle can be stimulated or modulated by many sources such as neurotransmitters [i.e. dopamine], hormones [i.e. estrogen], peptides [i.e. oxytocin] and amines. This study focuses on the biogenic monoamine tyramine, which is produced in the tyrosine catecholamine biosynthesis pathway. Tyramine is known to be associated with peripheral vasoconstriction, increased cardiac output, increased respiration, elevated blood glucose and the release of norepinephrine. This research has found tyramine, and its specific receptor TAAR1, to be localized within mouse uterus and that this monoamine can induce uterine contractions at levels similar to oxytocin.

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Date Created
2017

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Effects of Odorant-environment Complexity on Behavioral and Neural Plasticity at Different Time Scales

Description

The ability to detect and appropriately respond to chemical stimuli is important for many organisms, ranging from bacteria to multicellular animals. Responses to these stimuli can be plastic over multiple time scales. In the short-term, the synaptic strengths of neurons

The ability to detect and appropriately respond to chemical stimuli is important for many organisms, ranging from bacteria to multicellular animals. Responses to these stimuli can be plastic over multiple time scales. In the short-term, the synaptic strengths of neurons embedded in neural circuits can be modified and result in various forms of learning. In the long-term, the overall developmental trajectory of the olfactory network can be altered and synaptic strengths can be modified on a broad scale as a direct result of long-term (chronic) stimulus experience. Over evolutionary time the olfactory system can impose selection pressures that affect the odorants used in communication networks. On short time scales, I measured the effects of repeated alarm pheromone exposure on the colony-level defense behaviors in a social bee. I found that the responses to the alarm pheromone were plastic. This suggests that there may be mechanisms that affect individual plasticity to pheromones and regulate how these individuals act in groups to coordinate nest defense. On longer time scales, I measured the behavioral and neural affects of bees given a single chronic odor experience versus bees that had a natural, more diverse olfactory experience. The central brains of bees with a deprived odor experience responded more similarly to odorants in imaging studies, and did not develop a fully mature olfactory network. Additionally, these immature networks showed behavioral deficits when recalling odor mixture components. Over evolutionary time, signals need to engage the attention of and be easily recognized by bees. I measured responses of bees to a floral mixture and its constituent monomolecular components. I found that natural floral mixtures engage the orientation of bees’ antennae more strongly than single-component odorants and also provide more consistent central brain responses between stimulations. Together, these studies highlight the importance of olfactory experience on different scales and how the nervous system might impose pressures to select the stimuli used as signals in communication networks.

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Date Created
2018