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Dendritic spines are specialized postsynaptic structures that transduce presynaptic signals, are regulated by neural activity and correlated with learning and memory. Most studies of spine function have focused on the mammalian nervous system. However, spine-like protrusions have been reported in (Philbrook et al., 2018), suggesting that the experimental advantages of smaller model organisms could be exploited to study the biology of dendritic spines. Here, we used super-resolution microscopy, electron microscopy, live-cell imaging and genetics to show that motor neurons have functional dendritic spines that: (1) are structurally defined by a dynamic actin cytoskeleton; (2) appose presynaptic dense projections; (3) localize ER and ribosomes; (4) display calcium transients triggered by presynaptic activity and propagated by internal Ca stores; (5) respond to activity-dependent signals that regulate spine density. These studies provide a solid foundation for a new experimental paradigm that exploits the power of genetics and live-cell imaging for fundamental studies of dendritic spine morphogenesis and function.
© 2019, Cuentas-Condori et al.
In this chapter, heterogeneity is explored in the context of the ventricular-subventricular zone, the largest stem cell niche in the mammalian brain. This niche generates up to 10,000 new neurons daily in adult mice and extends over a large spatial area with dorso-ventral and medio-lateral subdivisions. The stem cells of the ventricular-subventricular zone can be subdivided by their anatomical position and transcriptional profile, and the stem cell lineage can also be further subdivided into stages of pre- and post-natal quiescence and activation. Beyond the stem cells proper, additional differences exist in their interactions with other cellular constituents of the niche, including neurons, vasculature, and cerebrospinal fluid. These variations in stem cell potential and local interactions are discussed, as well as unanswered questions within this system.
Because the white matter of the cerebral cortex contains axons that connect distant neurons in the cortical gray matter, the relationship between the volumes of the 2 cortical compartments is key for information transmission in the brain. It has been suggested that the volume of the white matter scales universally as a function of the volume of the gray matter across mammalian species, as would be expected if a global principle of wiring minimization applied. Using a systematic analysis across several mammalian clades, here we show that the volume of the white matter does not scale universally with the volume of the gray matter across mammals and is not optimized for wiring minimization. Instead, the ratio between volumes of gray and white matter is universally predicted by the same equation that predicts the degree of folding of the cerebral cortex, given the clade-specific scaling of cortical thickness, such that the volume of the gray matter (or the ratio of gray to total cortical volumes) divided by the square root of cortical thickness is a universal function of total cortical volume, regardless of the number of cortical neurons. Thus, the very mechanism that we propose to generate cortical folding also results in compactness of the white matter to a predictable degree across a wide variety of mammalian species.
Dendrite growth is constrained by a self-avoidance response that induces retraction but the downstream pathways that balance these opposing mechanisms are unknown. We have proposed that the diffusible cue UNC-6(Netrin) is captured by UNC-40(DCC) for a short-range interaction with UNC-5 to trigger self-avoidance in the C. elegans PVD neuron. Here we report that the actin-polymerizing proteins UNC-34(Ena/VASP), WSP-1(WASP), UNC-73(Trio), MIG-10(Lamellipodin) and the Arp2/3 complex effect dendrite retraction in the self-avoidance response mediated by UNC-6(Netrin). The paradoxical idea that actin polymerization results in shorter rather than longer dendrites is explained by our finding that NMY-1 (non-muscle myosin II) is necessary for retraction and could therefore mediate this effect in a contractile mechanism. Our results also show that dendrite length is determined by the antagonistic effects on the actin cytoskeleton of separate sets of effectors for retraction mediated by UNC-6(Netrin) versus outgrowth promoted by the DMA-1 receptor. Thus, our findings suggest that the dendrite length depends on an intrinsic mechanism that balances distinct modes of actin assembly for growth versus retraction.
Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) coordinates behavioral responses to stress through a variety of presynaptic and postsynaptic receptors distributed across functionally diverse neuronal networks in the central nervous system. Efferent 5-HT projections from the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) to the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) are generally thought to enhance anxiety and aversive learning by activating 5-HT receptor (5-HTR) signaling in the BNST, although an opposing role for postsynaptic 5-HT receptors has recently been suggested. In the present study, we sought to delineate a role for postsynaptic 5-HT receptors in the BNST in aversive behaviors using a conditional knockdown of the 5-HT receptor. Both males and females were tested to dissect out sex-specific effects. We found that male mice have significantly reduced fear memory recall relative to female mice and inactivation of 5-HT receptor in the BNST increases contextual fear conditioning in male mice so that they resemble the females. This coincided with an increase in neuronal excitability in males, suggesting that 5-HT receptor deletion may enhance contextual fear recall by disinhibiting fear memory circuits in the BNST. Interestingly, 5-HT receptor knockdown did not significantly alter anxiety-like behavior in male or female mice, which is in agreement with previous findings that anxiety and fear are modulated by dissociable circuits in the BNST. Overall, these results suggest that BNST 5-HT receptors do not significantly alter behavior under basal conditions, but can act as a molecular brake that buffer against excessive activation of aversive circuits in more threatening contexts.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a major human disease associated with degeneration of the central nervous system. Evidence suggests that several endogenously formed 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-mimicking chemicals that are metabolic conversion products, especially β-carbolines and isoquinolines, act as neurotoxins that induce PD or enhance progression of the disease. We have demonstrated previously that mitochondrially targeted human cytochrome P450 2D6 (CYP2D6), supported by mitochondrial adrenodoxin and adrenodoxin reductase, can efficiently catalyze the conversion of MPTP to the toxic 1-methyl-4-phenylpyridinium ion. In this study, we show that the mitochondrially targeted CYP2D6 can efficiently catalyze MPTP-mimicking compounds, 2-methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydroisoquinoline, 2-methyl-1,2,3,4-tetrahydro-β-carboline, and 9-methyl-norharmon, suspected to induce PD in humans. Our results reveal that activity and respiration in mouse brain mitochondrial complex I are significantly affected by these toxins in WT mice but remain unchanged in Cyp2d6 locus knockout mice, indicating a possible role of CYP2D6 in the metabolism of these compounds both and These metabolic effects were minimized in the presence of two CYP2D6 inhibitors, quinidine and ajmalicine. Neuro-2a cells stably expressing predominantly mitochondrially targeted CYP2D6 were more sensitive to toxin-mediated respiratory dysfunction and complex I inhibition than cells expressing predominantly endoplasmic reticulum-targeted CYP2D6. Exposure to these toxins also induced the autophagic marker Parkin and the mitochondrial fission marker Dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1) in differentiated neurons expressing mitochondrial CYP2D6. Our results show that monomethylamines are converted to their toxic cationic form by mitochondrially directed CYP2D6 and result in neuronal degradation in mice.
© 2019 Chattopadhyay et al.
Many neurodegenerations, including those of the visual system, have complex etiologies that include roles for both neurons and glia. In the retina there is evidence that retinal astrocytes play an important role in neurodegeneration. There are several approaches for isolating and growing primary retinal astrocytes, however, they often lead to different results. In this study, we examined the influence of culture conditions on phenotypic maturation of primary, purified retinal glia. We compared retinal astrocytes and Müller glia purified by immunomagnetic separation, as differentiation between these astrocyte subtypes is critical and immuno-based methods are the standard practice of purification. We found that while time in culture impacts the health and phenotype of both astrocytes and Müller glia, the phenotypic maturation of retinal astrocytes was most impacted by serum factors. These factors appeared to actively regulate intermediate filament phenotypes in a manner consistent with the induction of astrocyte-mesenchymal transition (AMT). This propensity for retinal astrocytes to shift along an AMT continuum should be considered when interpreting resulting data. Our goal is that this study will help standardize the field so that studies are replicable, comparable, and as accurate as possible for subsequent interpretation of findings.
Copyright © 2019 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
The antidepressant-sensitive serotonin (5-HT) transporter (SERT) dictates rapid, high-affinity clearance of the neurotransmitter in both the brain and periphery. In a study of families with multiple individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), we previously identified several, rare, missense coding variants that impart elevated 5-HT transport activity, relative to wild-type SERT, upon heterologous expression as well as in ASD subject lymphoblasts. The most common of these variants, SERT Ala56, located in the transporter's cytosolic N-terminus, has been found to confer in transgenic mice hyperserotonemia, an ASD-associated biochemical trait, an elevated brain 5-HT clearance rate, and ASD-aligned behavioral changes. Hyperfunction of SERT Ala56 has been ascribed to a change in 5-HT , though the physical basis of this change has yet to be elucidated. Through assessments of fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) between cytosolic N- and C-termini, sensitivity to methanethiosulfonates, and capacity for N-terminal tryptic digestion, we obtain evidence for mutation-induced conformational changes that support an open-outward 5-HT binding conformation and . Aspects of these findings were also evident with another naturally occurring C-terminal SERT coding variant identified in our ASD study, Asn605. We conclude that biased conformations of surface resident transporters that can impact transporter function and regulation are an unappreciated consequence of heritable and disease-associated SERT coding variation.
Hypothalamic melanocortin neurons play a pivotal role in weight regulation. Here, we examined the contribution of Semaphorin 3 (SEMA3) signaling to the development of these circuits. In genetic studies, we found 40 rare variants in SEMA3A-G and their receptors (PLXNA1-4; NRP1-2) in 573 severely obese individuals; variants disrupted secretion and/or signaling through multiple molecular mechanisms. Rare variants in this set of genes were significantly enriched in 982 severely obese cases compared to 4,449 controls. In a zebrafish mutagenesis screen, deletion of 7 genes in this pathway led to increased somatic growth and/or adiposity demonstrating that disruption of Semaphorin 3 signaling perturbs energy homeostasis. In mice, deletion of the Neuropilin-2 receptor in Pro-opiomelanocortin neurons disrupted their projections from the arcuate to the paraventricular nucleus, reduced energy expenditure, and caused weight gain. Cumulatively, these studies demonstrate that SEMA3-mediated signaling drives the development of hypothalamic melanocortin circuits involved in energy homeostasis.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.