[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Morphological characteristics of dendritic spines form the basis of cognitive ability. However, molecular mechanisms involved in fine-tuning of spine morphology during development are not fully understood. Moreover, it is unclear whether, and to what extent, these developmental mechanisms determine the normal adult spine morphological features. Here, we provide evidence that α2-isoform of Rac-specific GTPase-activating protein α-chimaerin (α2-chimaerin) is involved in spine morphological refinement during late postnatal period, and furthermore show that this developmental α2-chimaerin function affects adult spine morphologies. We used a series of mice with global and conditional knock-out of α-chimaerin isoforms (α1-chimaerin and α2-chimaerin). α2-Chimaerin disruption, but not α1-chimaerin disruption, in the mouse results in an increased size (and density) of spines in the hippocampus. In contrast, overexpression of α2-chimaerin in developing hippocampal neurons induces a decrease of spine size. Disruption of α2-chimaerin suppressed EphA-mediated spine morphogenesis in cultured developing hippocampal neurons. α2-Chimaerin disruption that begins during the juvenile stage results in an increased size of spines in the hippocampus. Meanwhile, spine morphologies are unaltered when α2-chimaerin is deleted only in adulthood. Consistent with these spine morphological results, disruption of α2-chimaerin beginning in the juvenile stage led to an increase in contextual fear learning in adulthood; whereas contextual learning was recently shown to be unaffected when α2-chimaerin was deleted only in adulthood. Together, these results suggest that α2-chimaerin signaling in developmental stages contributes to determination of the morphological features of adult spines and establishment of normal cognitive ability.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2015 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: NMDARs play a major role in patterning of topographic sensory maps in the brain. Genetic knock-out of the essential subunit of NMDARs in excitatory cortical neurons prevents whisker-specific neural pattern formation in the barrel cortex. To determine the role of NMDARs en route to the cortex, we generated sensory thalamus-specific NR1 (Grin1)-null mice (ThNR1KO). A multipronged approach, using histology, electrophysiology, optical imaging, and behavioral testing revealed that, in these mice, whisker patterns develop in the trigeminal brainstem but do not develop in the somatosensory thalamus. Subsequently, there is no barrel formation in the neocortex yet a partial afferent patterning develops. Whisker stimulation evokes weak cortical activity and presynaptic neurotransmitter release probability is also affected. We found several behavioral deficits in tasks, ranging from sensorimotor to social and cognitive. Collectively, these results show that thalamic NMDARs play a critical role in the patterning of the somatosensory thalamic and cortical maps and their impairment may lead to pronounced behavioral defects.
Full-text · Article · Sep 2014 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A major concern in neuroscience is how cognitive ability in adulthood is affected and regulated by developmental mechanisms. The molecular bases of cognitive development are not well understood. We provide evidence for the involvement of the α2 isoform of Rac-specific guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase)-activating protein (RacGAP) α-chimaerin (chimerin) in this process. We generated and analyzed mice with global and conditional knockouts of α-chimaerin and its isoforms (α1-chimaerin and α2-chimaerin) and found that α-chimaerin plays a wide variety of roles in brain function and that the roles of α1-chimaerin and α2-chimaerin are distinct. Deletion of α2-chimaerin, but not α1-chimaerin, beginning during early development results in an increase in contextual fear learning in adult mice, whereas learning is not altered when α2-chimaerin is deleted only in adulthood. Our findings suggest that α2-chimaerin acts during development to establish normal cognitive ability in adulthood.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The function of mature neurons critically relies on the developmental outgrowth and projection of their cellular processes. It has long been postulated that the neuronal glycoproteins M6a and M6b are involved in axon growth because these four-transmembrane domain-proteins of the proteolipid protein family are highly enriched on growth cones, but in vivo evidence has been lacking. Here, we report that the function of M6 proteins is required for normal axonal extension and guidance in vivo. In mice lacking both M6a and M6b, a severe hypoplasia of axon tracts was manifested. Most strikingly, the corpus callosum was reduced in thickness despite normal densities of cortical projection neurons. In single neuron tracing, many axons appeared shorter and disorganized in the double-mutant cortex, and some of them were even misdirected laterally toward the subcortex. Probst bundles were not observed. Upon culturing, double-mutant cortical and cerebellar neurons displayed impaired neurite outgrowth, indicating a cell-intrinsic function of M6 proteins. A rescue experiment showed that the intracellular loop of M6a is essential for the support of neurite extension. We propose that M6 proteins are required for proper extension and guidance of callosal axons that follow one of the most complex trajectories in the mammalian nervous system.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Thalamocortical (TC) connectivity is reorganized by thalamic inputs during postnatal development; however, the dynamic characteristics of TC reorganization and the underlying mechanisms remain unexplored. We addressed this question using dendritic refinement of layer 4 (L4) stellate neurons in mouse barrel cortex (barrel cells) as a model; dendritic refinement of L4 neurons is a critical component of TC reorganization through which postsynaptic L4 neurons acquire their dendritic orientation toward presynaptic TC axon termini. Simultaneous labeling of TC axons and individual barrel cell dendrites allowed in vivo time-lapse imaging of dendritic refinement in the neonatal cortex. The barrel cells reinforced the dendritic orientation toward TC axons by dynamically moving their branches. In N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR)-deficient barrel cells, this dendritic motility was enhanced, and the orientation bias was not reinforced. Our data suggest that L4 neurons have "fluctuating" dendrites during TC reorganization and that NMDARs cell autonomously regulate these dynamics to establish fine-tuned circuits.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: EphA4 signaling is essential for the spatiotemporal organization of neuronal circuit formation. In mice, deletion of this signaling pathway causes aberrant midline crossing of axons from both brain and spinal neurons and the complete knock-outs (KOs) exhibit a pronounced change in motor behavior, where alternating gaits are replaced by a rabbit-like hopping gait. The neuronal mechanism that is responsible for the gait switch in these KO mice is not known. Here, using intersectional genetics, we demonstrate that a spinal cord-specific deletion of EphA4 signaling is sufficient to generate the overground hopping gait. In contrast, selective deletion of EphA4 signaling in forebrain neurons, including the corticospinal tract neurons, did not result in a change in locomotor pattern. The gait switch was attributed to the loss of EphA4 signaling in excitatory Vglut2(+) neurons, which is accompanied by an increased midline crossing of Vglut2(+) neurons in the ventral spinal cord. Our findings functionally define spinal EphA4 signaling in excitatory Vglut2(+) neurons as required for proper organization of the spinal locomotor circuitry, and place these cells as essential components of the mammalian locomotor network.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2014 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ca(2+)-dependent activator protein for secretion 1 (CAPS1) plays a regulatory role in the dense-core vesicle (DCV) exocytosis pathway, but its functions at the cellular and synaptic levels in the brain are essentially unknown because of neonatal death soon after birth in Caps1 knock-out mice. To clarify the functions of the protein in the brain, we generated two conditional knock-out (cKO) mouse lines: 1) one lacking Caps1 in the forebrain; and 2) the other lacking Caps1 in the cerebellum. Both cKO mouse lines were born normally and grew to adulthood, although they showed subcellular and synaptic abnormalities. Forebrain-specific Caps1 cKO mice showed reduced immunoreactivity for the DCV marker secretogranin II (SgII) and the trans-Golgi network (TGN) marker syntaxin 6, a reduced number of presynaptic DCVs, and dilated trans-Golgi cisternae in the CA3 region. Cerebellum-specific Caps1 cKO mice had decreased immunoreactivity for SgII and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) along the climbing fibers. At climbing fiber-Purkinje cell synapses, the number of DCVs was markedly lower and the number of synaptic vesicles was also reduced. Correspondingly, the mean amplitude of EPSCs was decreased, whereas paired-pulse depression was significantly increased. Our results suggest that loss of CAPS1 disrupts the TGN-DCV pathway, which possibly impairs synaptic transmission by reducing the presynaptic release probability.
Full-text · Article · Oct 2013 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dravet syndrome is a severe epileptic encephalopathy mainly caused by heterozygous mutations in the SCN1A gene encoding a voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.1. We previously reported dense localization of Nav1.1 in parvalbumin (PV)-positive inhibitory interneurons in mice and abnormal firing of those neurons in Nav1.1-deficient mice. In the present study, we investigated the physiologic consequence of selective Nav1.1 deletion in mouse global inhibitory neurons, forebrain excitatory neurons or PV cells, using vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT)-Cre, empty spiracles homolog 1 (Emx1)-Cre or PV-Cre recombinase drivers. We show that selective Nav1.1 deletion using VGAT-Cre causes epileptic seizures and premature death that are unexpectedly more severe than those observed in constitutive Nav1.1-deficient mice. Nav1.1 deletion using Emx1-Cre does not cause any noticeable abnormalities in mice; however, the severe lethality observed with VGAT-Cre-driven Nav1.1 deletion is rescued by additional Nav1.1 deletion using Emx1-Cre. In addition to predominant expression in PV interneurons, we detected Nav1.1 in subpopulations of excitatory neurons, including entorhino-hippocampal projection neurons, a subpopulation of neocortical layer V excitatory neurons, and thalamo-cortical projection neurons. We further show that even minimal selective Nav1.1 deletion, using PV-Cre, is sufficient to cause spontaneous epileptic seizures and ataxia in mice. Overall, our results indicate that functional impairment of PV inhibitory neurons with Nav1.1 haploinsufficiency contributes to the epileptic pathology of Dravet syndrome, and show for the first time that Nav1.1 haploinsufficiency in excitatory neurons has an ameliorating effect on the pathology.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Human Molecular Genetics
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neural networks in the spinal cord known as central pattern generators produce the sequential activation of muscles needed for locomotion. The overall locomotor network architectures in limbed vertebrates have been much debated, and no consensus exists as to how they are structured. Here, we use optogenetics to dissect the excitatory and inhibitory neuronal populations and probe the organization of the mammalian central pattern generator. We find that locomotor-like rhythmic bursting can be induced unilaterally or independently in flexor or extensor networks. Furthermore, we show that individual flexor motor neuron pools can be recruited into bursting without any activity in other nearby flexor motor neuron pools. Our experiments differentiate among several proposed models for rhythm generation in the vertebrates and show that the basic structure underlying the locomotor network has a distributed organization with many intrinsically rhythmogenic modules.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The development of topographic maps of the sensory periphery is sensitive to the disruption of adenylate cyclase 1 (AC1) signaling. AC1 catalyzes the production of cAMP in a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent manner, and AC1 mutant mice (AC1−/−) have disordered visual and somatotopic maps. However, the broad expression of AC1 in the brain and the promiscuous nature of cAMP signaling have frustrated attempts to determine the underlying mechanism of AC1-dependent map development. In the mammalian visual system, the initial coarse targeting of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) projections to the superior colliculus (SC) and lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN) is guided by molecular cues, and the subsequent refinement of these crude projections occurs via an activity-dependent process that depends on spontaneous retinal waves. Here, we show that AC1−/− mice have normal retinal waves but disrupted map refinement. We demonstrate that AC1 is required for the emergence of dense and focused termination zones and elimination of inaccurately targeted collaterals at the level of individual retinofugal arbors. Conditional deletion of AC1 in the retina recapitulates map defects, indicating that the locus of map disruptions in the SC and dorsal LGN of AC1−/− mice is presynaptic. Finally, map defects in mice without AC1 and disrupted retinal waves (AC1−/−;β2−/− double KO mice) are no worse than those in mice lacking only β2−/−, but loss of AC1 occludes map recovery in β2−/− mice during the second postnatal week. These results suggest that AC1 in RGC axons mediates the development of retinotopy and eye-specific segregation in the SC and dorsal LGN.
Full-text · Article · May 2012 · The Journal of Comparative Neurology
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Avulsion of spinal nerve roots in the brachial plexus (BP) can be repaired by crossing nerve transfer via a nerve graft to connect injured nerve ends to the BP contralateral to the lesioned side. Sensory recovery in these patients suggests that the contralateral primary somatosensory cortex (S1) is activated by afferent inputs that bypassed to the contralateral BP. To confirm this hypothesis, the present study visualized cortical activity after crossing nerve transfer in mice through the use of transcranial flavoprotein fluorescence imaging. In naïve mice, vibratory stimuli applied to the forepaw elicited localized fluorescence responses in the S1 contralateral to the stimulated side, with almost no activity in the ipsilateral S1. Four weeks after crossing nerve transfer, forepaw stimulation in the injured and repaired side resulted in cortical responses only in the S1 ipsilateral to the stimulated side. At eight weeks after crossing nerve transfer, forepaw stimulation resulted in S1 cortical responses of both hemispheres. These cortical responses were abolished by cutting the nerve graft used for repair. Exposure of the ipsilateral S1 to blue laser light suppressed cortical responses in the ipsilateral S1, as well as in the contralateral S1, suggesting that ipsilateral responses propagated to the contralateral S1 via cortico-cortical pathways. Direct high-frequency stimulation of the ipsilateral S1 in combination with forepaw stimulation acutely induced S1 bilateral cortical representation of the forepaw area in naïve mice. Cortical responses in the contralateral S1 after crossing nerve transfer were reduced in cortex-restricted heterotypic GluN1 (NMDAR1) knockout mice. Functional bilateral cortical representation was not clearly observed in genetically manipulated mice with impaired cortico-cortical pathways between S1 of both hemispheres. Taken together, these findings strongly suggest that activity-dependent potentiation of cortico-cortical pathways has a critical role for sensory recovery in patients after crossing nerve transfer.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: J. Neurochem. (2010) 112, 1035–1044.
To identify a novel regulatory factor involved in brain development or synaptic plasticity, we applied the differential display PCR method to mRNA samples from NMDA-stimulated and un-stimulated neocortical cultures. Among 64 cDNA clones isolated, eight clones were novel genes and one of them encodes a novel zinc-finger protein, HIT-4, which is 317 amino acid residues (36–38 kDa) in length and contains seven C2H2 zinc-finger motifs. Rat HIT-4 cDNA exhibits strong homology to human ZNF597 (57% amino acid identity and 72% homology) and identity to rat ZNF597 at the carboxyl region. Furthermore, genomic alignment of HIT-4 cDNA indicates that the alternative use of distinct promoters and exons produces HIT-4 and ZNF597 mRNAs. Northern blotting revealed that HIT-4 mRNA (∼6 kb) is expressed in various tissues such as the lung, heart, and liver, but enriched in the brain, while ZNF597 mRNA (∼1.5 kb) is found only in the testis. To evaluate biological roles of HIT-4/ZNF597, targeted mutagenesis of this gene was performed in mice. Homozygous (−/−) mutation was embryonic lethal, ceasing embryonic organization before cardiogenesis at embryonic day 7.5. Heterozygous (+/−) mice were able to survive but showing cell degeneration and vacuolization of the striatum, cingulate cortex, and their surrounding white matter. These results reveal novel biological and pathological roles of HIT-4 in brain development and/or maintenance.
Full-text · Article · Dec 2009 · Journal of Neurochemistry