[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neurons in the mammalian brain receive thousands of synaptic inputs on their dendrites. In many types of neurons, such as cortical pyramidal neurons, excitatory synapses are formed on fine dendritic protrusions called spines. Usually, an individual spine forms a single synaptic contact with an afferent axon. In this protocol, we describe a recently established experimental procedure for measuring intracellular calcium signals from dendritic spines in cortical neurons in vivo by using a combination of two-photon microscopy and whole-cell patch-clamp recordings. We have used mice as an experimental model system, but the protocol may be readily adapted to other species. This method involves data acquisition at high frame rates and low-excitation laser power, and is termed low-power temporal oversampling (LOTOS). Because of its high sensitivity of fluorescence detection and reduced phototoxicity, LOTOS allows for prolonged and stable calcium imaging in vivo. Key aspects of the protocol, which can be completed in 5-6 h, include the use of a variant of high-speed two-photon imaging, refined surgery procedures and optimized tissue stabilization.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The individual functional properties and spatial arrangement of afferent synaptic inputs on dendrites have a critical role in the processing of information by neurons in the mammalian brain. Although recent work has identified visually-evoked local dendritic calcium signals in the rodent visual cortex, sensory-evoked signalling on the level of dendritic spines, corresponding to individual afferent excitatory synapses, remains unexplored. Here we used a new variant of high-resolution two-photon imaging to detect sensory-evoked calcium transients in single dendritic spines of mouse cortical neurons in vivo. Calcium signals evoked by sound stimulation required the activation of NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors. Active spines are widely distributed on basal and apical dendrites and pure-tone stimulation at different frequencies revealed both narrowly and widely tuned spines. Notably, spines tuned for different frequencies were highly interspersed on the same dendrites: even neighbouring spines were mostly tuned to different frequencies. Thus, our results demonstrate that NMDA-receptor-dependent single-spine synaptic inputs to the same dendrite are highly heterogeneous. Furthermore, our study opens the way for in vivo mapping of functionally defined afferent sensory inputs with single-synapse resolution.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ultramicroscopy is a powerful tool to reveal detailed three-dimensional structures of large microscopical objects. Using high magnification, we observed that formalin induces fluorescence more in extra-cellular space and stains cellular structures negatively, rendering cells as dark objects in front of a bright background. Here, we show this effect on a three-dimensional image stack of a hippocampus sample, focusing on the CA1 region. This method, called FIF-Ultramicroscopy, allows for the three-dimensional observation of cellular structures in various tissue types without complicated staining techniques.
PLoS ONE 04/2010; 5(4):e10391. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0010391 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In a recent publication we described a microscopical technique called Ultramicroscopy, combined with a histological procedure that makes biological samples transparent. With this combination we can gather three-dimensional image data of large biological samples. Here we present the theoretical analysis of the z-resolution. By analyzing the cross-section of the illuminating sheet of light we derive resolution values according to the Rayleigh-criterion. Next we investigate the resolution adjacent to the focal point of the illumination beam, analyze throughout what extend the illumination beam is of acceptable sharpness and investigate the resolution improvements caused by the objective lens. Finally we conclude with a useful rule for the sampling rates. These findings are of practical importance for researchers working with Ultramicroscopy to decide on adequate sampling rates. They are also necessary to modify deconvolution techniques to gain further image improvements.
PLoS ONE 02/2009; 4(6):e5785. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0005785 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Visualizing entire neuronal networks for analysis in the intact brain has been impossible up to now. Techniques like computer tomography or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) do not yield cellular resolution, and mechanical slicing procedures are insufficient to achieve high-resolution reconstructions in three dimensions. Here we present an approach that allows imaging of whole fixed mouse brains. We modified 'ultramicroscopy' by combining it with a special procedure to clear tissue. We show that this new technique allows optical sectioning of fixed mouse brains with cellular resolution and can be used to detect single GFP-labeled neurons in excised mouse hippocampi. We obtained three-dimensional (3D) images of dendritic trees and spines of populations of CA1 neurons in isolated hippocampi. Also in fruit flies and in mouse embryos, we were able to visualize details of the anatomy by imaging autofluorescence. Our method is ideally suited for high-throughput phenotype screening of transgenic mice and thus will benefit the investigation of disease models.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ultramicroscopy, a novel optical tomographic imaging modality related to fluorescence microscopy, allows to acquire cross-sectional slices of small specially prepared biological samples with astounding quality and resolution. However, scattering of the fluorescence light causes the quality to decrease proportional to the depth of the currently imaged plane. Scattering and beam thickness of the excitation laser light cause additional image degradation. We perform a physical simulation of the light scattering in order to define a quantitative function of image quality with respect to depth. This allows us to establish 3D-volumes of quality information in addition to the image data. Volumes are acquired at different orientations of the sample, hence providing complementary regions of high quality. We propose an algorithm for rigid 3D-3D registration of these volumes incorporating voxel quality information, based on maximizing an adapted linear correlation term. The quality ratio of the images is then used, along with the registration result, to create improved volumes of the imaged object. The methods are applied on acquisitions of a mouse brain and mouse embryo to create outstanding three-dimensional reconstructions.