Matching Items (9)

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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

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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Created

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,

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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Created

Date Created
  • 2014

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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

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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Disrupted synaptic transmission and abnormal short-term synaptic plasticity in an Angelman syndrome mouse model

Description

Angelman syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, impaired language and speech, and movement defects. Most AS cases are caused by dysfunction of a maternally-expressed

Angelman syndrome (AS) is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, impaired language and speech, and movement defects. Most AS cases are caused by dysfunction of a maternally-expressed E3 ubiquitin ligase (UBE3A, also known as E6 associated protein, E6-AP) in neurons. Currently, the mechanism on how loss-of-function of the enzyme influences the nervous system development remains unknown. We hypothesize that impaired metabolism of proteins, most likely those related to E6-AP substrates, may alter the developmental trajectory of neuronal structures including dendrites, spines and synaptic proteins, which leads to disrupted activity/experience-dependent synaptic plasticity and maturation. To test this hypothesis, we conducted a detailed investigation on neuronal morphology and electrophysiological properties in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) layer 5 (L5) corticostriatal pyramidal neurons (target neurons). We found smaller soma size in the maternal Ube3a deficient mice (m-/p+; 'AS' mice) at postnatal 17-19 (P17-19), P28-35 and older than 70 days (>P70), and decreased basal dendritic processes at P28-35. Surprisingly, both excitatory and inhibitory miniature postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs and mIPSCs) decreased on these neurons. These neurons also exhibited abnormalities in the local neural circuits, short-term synaptic plasticity and AMPA/NMDA ratio: the excitatory inputs from L2/3 and L5A, and inhibitory inputs from L5 significantly reduced in AS mice from P17-19; Both the release probability (Pr) and readily-releasable vesicle (RRV) pool replenishment of presynaptic neurons of the target neurons were disrupted at P17-19 and P28-35, and the change of RRV pool replenishment maintained through adulthood (>P70). The AMPA/NMDA ratio showed abnormality in the L5 corticostriatal neurons of PFC in AS mice older than P28-35, during which it decreased significantly compared to that of age-matched WT littermates. Western Blot analysis revealed that the expression level of a key regulator of the cytoskeleton system, Rho family small GTPase cell division control protein 42 homolog (cdc42), reduced significantly in the PFC of AS mice at P28-35.These impairments of synaptic transmission and short-term synaptic plasticity may account for the impaired neuronal morphology and synaptic deficits observed in the PFC target neurons, and contribute to the phenotypes in AS model mice. The present work reveals for the first time that the E6-AP deficiency influences brain function in both brain region-specific and age-dependent ways, demonstrates the functional impairment at the neural circuit level, and reveals that the presynaptic mechanisms are disrupted in AS model. These novel findings shed light on our understanding of the AS pathogenesis and inform potential novel therapeutic explorations.

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Created

Date Created
  • 2017

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Sublethal effects of heavy metal and metalloid exposure in honey bees: behavioral modifications and potential mechanisms

Description

Neurotoxicology has historically focused on substances that directly damage nervous tissue. Behavioral assays that test sensory, cognitive, or motor function are used to identify neurotoxins. But, the outcomes of behavioral

Neurotoxicology has historically focused on substances that directly damage nervous tissue. Behavioral assays that test sensory, cognitive, or motor function are used to identify neurotoxins. But, the outcomes of behavioral assays may also be influenced by the physiological status of non-neural organs. Therefore, toxin induced damage to non- neural organs may contribute to behavioral modifications. Heavy metals and metalloids are persistent environmental pollutants and induce neurological deficits in multiple organisms. However, in the honey bee, an important insect pollinator, little is known about the sublethal effects of heavy metal and metalloid toxicity though they are exposed to these toxins chronically in some environments. In this thesis I investigate the sublethal effects of copper, cadmium, lead, and selenium on honey bee behavior and identify potential mechanisms mediating the behavioral modifications. I explore the honey bees’ ability to detect these toxins, their sensory perception of sucrose following toxin exposure, and the effects of toxin ingestion on performance during learning and memory tasks. The effects depend on the specific metal. Honey bees detect and reject copper containing solutions, but readily consume those contaminated with cadmium and lead. And, exposure to lead may alter the sensory perception of sucrose. I also demonstrate that acute selenium exposure impairs learning and long-term memory formation or recall. Localizing selenium accumulation following chronic exposure reveals that damage to non-neural organs and peripheral sensory structures is more likely than direct neurotoxicity. Probable mechanisms include gut microbiome alterations, gut lining

damage, immune system activation, impaired protein function, or aberrant DNA methylation. In the case of DNA methylation, I demonstrate that inhibiting DNA methylation dynamics can impair long-term memory formation, while the nurse-to- forager transition is not altered. These experiments could serve as the bases for and reference groups of studies testing the effects of metal or metalloid toxicity on DNA methylation. Each potential mechanism provides an avenue for investigating how neural function is influenced by the physiological status of non-neural organs. And from an ecological perspective, my results highlight the need for environmental policy to consider sublethal effects in determining safe environmental toxin loads for honey bees and other insect pollinators.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2016

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Blood supply and vascular reactivity of the spinal cord under normal and pathological conditions

Description

The unique anatomical and functional properties of vasculature determine the susceptibility of the spinal cord to ischemia. The spinal cord vascular architecture is designed to withstand major ischemic events by

The unique anatomical and functional properties of vasculature determine the susceptibility of the spinal cord to ischemia. The spinal cord vascular architecture is designed to withstand major ischemic events by compensating blood supply via important anastomotic channels. One of the important compensatory channels of the arterial basket of the conus medullaris (ABCM). ABCM consists of one or two arteries arising from the anterior spinal artery (ASA) and circumferentially connecting the ASA and the posterior spinal arteries. In addition to compensatory function, the arterial basket can be involved in arteriovenous fistulae and malformations of the conus. The morphometric anatomical analysis of the ABCM was performed with emphasis on vessel diameters and branching patterns.

A significant ischemic event that overcomes vascular compensatory capacity causes spinal cord injury (SCI). For example, SCI complicating thoracoabdominal aortic aneurysm repair is associated with ischemic injury. The rate of this devastating complication has been decreased significantly by instituting physiological methods of protection. Traumatic spinal cord injury causes complex changes in spinal cord blood flow (SCBF), which are closely related to a severity of injury. Manipulating physiological parameters such as mean arterial pressure (MAP) and intrathecal pressure (ITP) may be beneficial for patients with a spinal cord injury. It was discovered in a pig model of SCI that the combination of MAP elevation and cerebrospinal fluid drainage (CSFD) significantly and sustainably improved SCBF and spinal cord perfusion pressure.

In animal models of SCI, regeneration is usually evaluated histologically, requiring animal sacrifice. Thus, there is a need for a technique to detect changes in SCI noninvasively over time. The study was performed comparing manganese-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging (MEMRI) in hemisection and transection SCI rat models with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and histology. MEMERI ratio differed among transection and hemisection groups, correlating to a severity of SCI measured by fraction anisotropy and myelin load. MEMRI is a useful noninvasive tool to assess a degree of neuronal damage after SCI.

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Date Created
  • 2016

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The roles of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the ventral tegmental area: implications in nicotine and ethanol addiction and drug intervention

Description

Tobacco and alcohol are the most commonly abused drugs worldwide. Many people smoke and drink together, but the mechanisms of this nicotine (NIC) -ethanol (EtOH) dependence are not fully known.

Tobacco and alcohol are the most commonly abused drugs worldwide. Many people smoke and drink together, but the mechanisms of this nicotine (NIC) -ethanol (EtOH) dependence are not fully known. EtOH has been shown to affect some nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs), which potentially underlies NIC-EtOH codependence. Ventral Tegmental Area (VTA) dopamine (DA) and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurons express different nAChR subtypes, whose net activation results in enhancement of DA release in the Prefrontal Cortex (PFC) and Nucleus Accumbens (NAc). Enhancement of DA transmission in this mesocorticolimbic system is thought to lead to rewarding properties of EtOH and NIC, clarification of which is relevant to public health and clinical diseases. The aim of this study was to elucidate pharmacological mechanisms of action employed by both NIC and EtOH through nAChRs in VTA neurons by evaluating behavioral, network, synaptic and receptor functions therein. It was hypothesized that VTA GABA neurons are controlled by α7 nAChRs on presynaptic GLUergic terminals and α6 nAChRs on presynaptic GABAergic terminals. NIC and EtOH, via these nAChRs, modulate VTA GABA neuronal function. This modulation may underlie NIC and EtOH reward and reinforcement, while pharmacological manipulation of these nAChRs may be a therapeutic strategy to treat NIC or EtOH dependence. This data demonstrates that in VTA GABA neurons, α7 nAChRs on GLUergic terminals play a key role in the mediation of local NIC-induced firing increase. α6*-nAChRs on GABA terminals enhances presynaptic GABA release, and leads to greater inhibition to VTA GABA neurons, which results in an increase VTA DA neuron firing via a disinhibition mechanism. Genetic knockout of these nAChRs significantly prevents EtOH-induced animal conditioned place preference (CPP). Furthermore, levo-tetrahydropalmadine (l-THP), a compound purified from natural Chinese herbs, blocks nAChRs, prevents NIC-induced DA neuronal firing, and eliminates NIC CPP, suggesting it as a promising candidate in a new generation of interventions for smoking cessation. Improved understanding of underlying mechanisms and development of new drugs will increase the number of successful quitters each year and dramatically improve the quality of life for millions suffering from addiction, as well as those around them.

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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

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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A novel mechanism underlies pathological, beta-amyloid-induced neuronal hyperexcitation

Description

Patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) exhibit a significantly higher incidence of unprovoked seizures compared to age-matched non-AD controls, and animal models of AD (i.e., transgenic human amyloid precursor protein, hAPP

Patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD) exhibit a significantly higher incidence of unprovoked seizures compared to age-matched non-AD controls, and animal models of AD (i.e., transgenic human amyloid precursor protein, hAPP mice) display neural hyper-excitation and epileptic seizures. Hyperexcitation is particularly important because it contributes to the high incidence of epilepsy in AD patients as well as AD-related synaptic deficits and neurodegeneration. Given that there is significant amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulation and deposition in AD brain, Aβ exposure ultimately may be responsible for neural hyper-excitation in both AD patients and animal models. Emerging evidence indicates that α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (α7-nAChR) are involved in AD pathology, because synaptic impairment and learning and memory deficits in a hAPPα7-/- mouse model are decreased by nAChR α7 subunit gene deletion. Given that Aβ potently modulates α7-nAChR function, that α7-nAChR expression is significantly enhanced in both AD patients and animal models, and that α7-nAChR play an important role in regulating neuronal excitability, it is reasonable that α7-nAChRs may contribute to Aβ-induced neural hyperexcitation. We hypothesize that increased α7-nAChR expression and function as a consequence of Aβ exposure is important in Aβ-induced neural hyperexcitation. In this project, we found that exposure of Aβ aggregates at a nanomolar range induces neuronal hyperexcitation and toxicity via an upregulation of α7-nAChR in cultured hippocampus pyramidal neurons. Aβ up-regulates α7-nAChRs function and expression through a post translational mechanism. α7-nAChR up-regulation occurs prior to Aβ-induced neuronal hyperexcitation and toxicity. Moreover, inhibition of α7-nAChR or deletion of α7-nAChR prevented Aβ induced neuronal hyperexcitation and toxicity, which suggests that α7-nAChRs are required for Aβ induced neuronal hyperexcitation and toxicity. These results reveal a profound role for α7-nAChR in mediating Aβ-induced neuronal hyperexcitation and toxicity and predict that Aβ-induced up-regulation of α7-nAChR could be an early and critical event in AD etiopathogenesis. Drugs targeting α7-nAChR or seizure activity could be viable therapies for AD treatment.

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Agent

Created

Date Created
  • 2011