Homeostatic plasticity encompasses the mechanisms by which neurons stabilize their synaptic strength and excitability in response to prolonged and destabilizing changes in their network activity. Prolonged activity blockade leads to homeostatic scaling of action potential (AP) firing rate in hippocampal neurons in part by decreased activity of N-Methyl-D-Aspartate receptors and subsequent transcriptional down-regulation of potassium channel genes including
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- Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
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- National Science Foundation
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null (Ed.)The axon initial segment (AIS) is a highly regulated subcellular domain required for neuronal firing. Changes in the AIS protein composition and distribution are a form of structural plasticity, which powerfully regulates neuronal activity and may underlie several neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. Despite its physiological and pathophysiological relevance, the signaling pathways mediating AIS protein distribution are still poorly studied. Here, we used confocal imaging and whole-cell patch clamp electrophysiology in primary hippocampal neurons to study how AIS protein composition and neuronal firing varied in response to selected kinase inhibitors targeting the AKT/GSK3 pathway, which has previously been shown to phosphorylate AIS proteins. Image-based features representing the cellular pattern distribution of the voltage-gated Na+ (Nav) channel, ankyrin G, βIV spectrin, and the cell-adhesion molecule neurofascin were analyzed, revealing βIV spectrin as the most sensitive AIS protein to AKT/GSK3 pathway inhibition. Within this pathway, inhibition of AKT by triciribine has the greatest effect on βIV spectrin localization to the AIS and its subcellular distribution within neurons, a phenotype that Support Vector Machine classification was able to accurately distinguish from control. Treatment with triciribine also resulted in increased excitability in primary hippocampal neurons. Thus, perturbations to signaling mechanisms within the AKT pathway contribute to changes in βIV spectrin distribution and neuronal firing that may be associated with neuropsychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders.more » « less
The acoustic environment an animal experiences early in life shapes the structure and function of its auditory system. This process of experience-dependent development is thought to be primarily orchestrated by potentiation and depression of synapses, but plasticity of intrinsic voltage dynamics may also contribute. Here, we show that in juvenile male and female zebra finches, neurons in a cortical-level auditory area, the caudal mesopallium (CM), can rapidly change their firing dynamics. This plasticity was only observed in birds that were reared in a complex acoustic and social environment, which also caused increased expression of the low-threshold potassium channel Kv1.1 in the plasma membrane and endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Intrinsic plasticity depended on activity, was reversed by blocking low-threshold potassium currents, and was prevented by blocking intracellular calcium signaling. Taken together, these results suggest that Kv1.1 is rapidly mobilized to the plasma membrane by activity-dependent elevation of intracellular calcium. This produces a shift in the excitability and temporal integration of CM neurons that may be permissive for auditory learning in complex acoustic environments during a crucial period for the development of vocal perception and production.
SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTNeurons can change not only the strength of their connections to other neurons, but also how they integrate synaptic currents to produce patterns of action potentials. In contrast to synaptic plasticity, the mechanisms and functional roles of intrinisic plasticity remain poorly understood. We found that neurons in the zebra finch auditory cortex can rapidly shift their spiking dynamics within a few minutes in response to intracellular stimulation. This plasticity involves increased conductance of a low-threshold potassium current associated with the Kv1.1 channel, but it only occurs in birds reared in a rich acoustic environment. Thus, auditory experience regulates a mechanism of neural plasticity that allows neurons to rapidly adapt their firing dynamics to stimulation.
Neuronal Kv7/Potassium Voltage-Gated Channel Subfamily Q (KCNQ) potassium channels underlie M-current that potently suppresses repetitive and burst firing of action potentials (APs). They are mostly heterotetramers of Kv7.2 and Kv7.3 subunits in the hippocampus and cortex, the brain regions important for cognition and behavior. Underscoring their critical roles in inhibiting neuronal excitability, autosomal dominantly inherited mutations in Potassium Voltage-Gated Channel Subfamily Q Member 2 (
KCNQ2) and Potassium Voltage-Gated Channel Subfamily Q Member 3 ( KCNQ3) genes are associated with benign familial neonatal epilepsy (BFNE) in which most seizures spontaneously remit within months without cognitive deficits. De novomutations in KCNQ2also cause epileptic encephalopathy (EE), which is characterized by persistent seizures that are often drug refractory, neurodevelopmental delay, and intellectual disability. Heterozygous expression of EE variants of KCNQ2is recently shown to induce spontaneous seizures and cognitive deficit in mice, although it is unclear whether this cognitive deficit is caused directly by Kv7 disruption or by persistent seizures in the developing brain as a consequence of Kv7 disruption. In this study, we examined the role of Kv7 channels in learning and memory by behavioral phenotyping of the KCNQ2+/−mice, which lack a single copy of KCNQ2but dos not display spontaneous seizures. We found that both KCNQ2+/−and wild-type (WT) mice showed comparable nociception in the tail-flick assay and fear-induced learning and memory during a passive inhibitory avoidance (IA) test and contextual fear conditioning (CFC). Both genotypes displayed similar object location and recognition memory. These findings together provide evidence that heterozygous loss of KCNQ2has minimal effects on learning or memory in mice in the absence of spontaneous seizures.
Recent experimental results have shown that the detection of cues in behavioral attention tasks relies on transient increases of acetylcholine (ACh) release in frontal cortex and cholinergically driven oscillatory activity in the gamma frequency band (Howe et al. Journal of Neuroscience, 2017, 37, 3215). The cue‐induced gamma rhythmic activity requires stimulation of M1 muscarinic receptors. Using biophysical computational modeling, we show that a network of excitatory (E) and inhibitory (I) neurons that initially displays asynchronous firing can generate transient gamma oscillatory activity in response to simulated brief pulses of ACh. ACh effects are simulated as transient modulation of the conductance of an M‐type K+current which is blocked by activation of muscarinic receptors and has significant effects on neuronal excitability. The ACh‐induced effects on the M current conductance,
gKs, change network dynamics to promote the emergence of network gamma rhythmicity through a Pyramidal‐Interneuronal Network Gamma mechanism. Depending on connectivity strengths between and among E and I cells, gamma activity decays with the simulated gKstransient modulation or is sustained in the network after the gKstransient has completely dissipated. We investigated the sensitivity of the emergent gamma activity to synaptic strengths, external noise and simulated levels of gKsmodulation. To address recent experimental findings that cholinergic signaling is likely spatially focused and dynamic, we show that localized gKsmodulation can induce transient changes of cellular excitability in local subnetworks, subsequently causing population‐specific gamma oscillations. These results highlight dynamical mechanisms underlying localization of ACh‐driven responses and suggest that spatially localized, cholinergically induced gamma may contribute to selectivity in the processing of competing external stimuli, as occurs in attentional tasks.
The amyloid precursor protein (APP) is linked to the genetics and pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). It is the parent protein of the β-amyloid (Aβ) peptide, the main constituent of the amyloid plaques found in an AD brain. The pathways from APP to Aβ are intensively studied, yet the normal functions of APP itself have generated less interest. We report here that glutamate stimulation of neuronal activity leads to a rapid increase in
Appgene expression. In mouse and human neurons, elevated APP protein changes the structure of the axon initial segment (AIS) where action potentials are initiated. The AIS is shortened in length and shifts away from the cell body. The GCaMP8f Ca2+reporter confirms the predicted decrease in neuronal activity. NMDA antagonists or knockdown of Appblock the glutamate effects. The actions of APP on the AIS are cell-autonomous; exogenous Aβ, either fibrillar or oligomeric, has no effect. In culture, APPSwe(a familial AD mutation) induces larger AIS changes than wild type APP. Ankyrin G and βIV-spectrin, scaffolding proteins of the AIS, both physically associate with APP, more so in AD brains. Finally, in humans with sporadic AD or in the R1.40 AD mouse model, both females and males, neurons have elevated levels of APP protein that invade the AIS. In vivoas in vitro, this increased APP is associated with a significant shortening of the AIS. The findings outline a new role for the APP and encourage a reconsideration of its relationship to AD. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTWhile the amyloid precursor protein (APP) has long been associated with Alzheimer's disease (AD), the normal functions of the full-length Type I membrane protein have been largely unexplored. We report here that the levels of APP protein increase with neuronal activity. In vivoand in vitro, modest amounts of excess APP alter the properties of the axon initial segment. The β-amyloid peptide derived from APP is without effect. Consistent with the observed changes in the axon initial segment which would be expected to decrease action potential firing, we show that APP expression depresses neuronal activity. In mouse AD models and human sporadic AD, APP physically associates with the scaffolding proteins of the axon initial segment, suggesting a relationship with AD dementia.