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miR-132/212 Knockout Mice Reveal Roles for These miRNAs in Regulating Cortical Synaptic Transmission and Plasticity  [PDF]
Judit Remenyi, Mirjam W. M. van den Bosch, Oleg Palygin, Rajen B. Mistry, Colin McKenzie, Andrew Macdonald, Gyorgy Hutvagner, J. Simon C. Arthur, Bruno G. Frenguelli, Yuriy Pankratov
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062509
Abstract: miR-132 and miR-212 are two closely related miRNAs encoded in the same intron of a small non-coding gene, which have been suggested to play roles in both immune and neuronal function. We describe here the generation and initial characterisation of a miR-132/212 double knockout mouse. These mice were viable and fertile with no overt adverse phenotype. Analysis of innate immune responses, including TLR-induced cytokine production and IFNβ induction in response to viral infection of primary fibroblasts did not reveal any phenotype in the knockouts. In contrast, the loss of miR-132 and miR-212, while not overtly affecting neuronal morphology, did affect synaptic function. In both hippocampal and neocortical slices miR-132/212 knockout reduced basal synaptic transmission, without affecting paired-pulse facilitation. Hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP) induced by tetanic stimulation was not affected by miR-132/212 deletion, whilst theta burst LTP was enhanced. In contrast, neocortical theta burst-induced LTP was inhibited by loss of miR-132/212. Together these results indicate that miR-132 and/or miR-212 play a significant role in synaptic function, possibly by regulating the number of postsynaptic AMPA receptors under basal conditions and during activity-dependent synaptic plasticity.
Somato-dendritic Synaptic Plasticity and Error-backpropagation in Active Dendrites  [PDF]
Mathieu Schiess?,Robert Urbanczik?,Walter Senn
PLOS Computational Biology , 2016, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004638
Abstract: In the last decade dendrites of cortical neurons have been shown to nonlinearly combine synaptic inputs by evoking local dendritic spikes. It has been suggested that these nonlinearities raise the computational power of a single neuron, making it comparable to a 2-layer network of point neurons. But how these nonlinearities can be incorporated into the synaptic plasticity to optimally support learning remains unclear. We present a theoretically derived synaptic plasticity rule for supervised and reinforcement learning that depends on the timing of the presynaptic, the dendritic and the postsynaptic spikes. For supervised learning, the rule can be seen as a biological version of the classical error-backpropagation algorithm applied to the dendritic case. When modulated by a delayed reward signal, the same plasticity is shown to maximize the expected reward in reinforcement learning for various coding scenarios. Our framework makes specific experimental predictions and highlights the unique advantage of active dendrites for implementing powerful synaptic plasticity rules that have access to downstream information via backpropagation of action potentials.
SynGAP Regulates Protein Synthesis and Homeostatic Synaptic Plasticity in Developing Cortical Networks  [PDF]
Chih-Chieh Wang, Richard G. Held, Benjamin J. Hall
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0083941
Abstract: Disrupting the balance between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmission in the developing brain has been causally linked with intellectual disability (ID) and autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Excitatory synapse strength is regulated in the central nervous system by controlling the number of postsynaptic α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepr?opionicacid receptors (AMPARs). De novo genetic mutations of the synaptic GTPase-activating protein (SynGAP) are associated with ID and ASD. SynGAP is enriched at excitatory synapses and genetic suppression of SynGAP increases excitatory synaptic strength. However, exactly how SynGAP acts to maintain synaptic AMPAR content is unclear. We show here that SynGAP limits excitatory synaptic strength, in part, by suppressing protein synthesis in cortical neurons. The data presented here from in vitro, rat and mouse cortical networks, demonstrate that regulation of translation by SynGAP involves ERK, mTOR, and the small GTP-binding protein Rheb. Furthermore, these data show that GluN2B-containing NMDARs and the cognitive kinase CaMKII act upstream of SynGAP and that this signaling cascade is required for proper translation-dependent homeostatic synaptic plasticity of excitatory synapses in developing cortical networks.
LTS and FS Inhibitory Interneurons, Short-Term Synaptic Plasticity, and Cortical Circuit Dynamics  [PDF]
Itai Hayut,Erika E. Fanselow,Barry W. Connors,David Golomb
PLOS Computational Biology , 2011, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1002248
Abstract: Somatostatin-expressing, low threshold-spiking (LTS) cells and fast-spiking (FS) cells are two common subtypes of inhibitory neocortical interneuron. Excitatory synapses from regular-spiking (RS) pyramidal neurons to LTS cells strongly facilitate when activated repetitively, whereas RS-to-FS synapses depress. This suggests that LTS neurons may be especially relevant at high rate regimes and protect cortical circuits against over-excitation and seizures. However, the inhibitory synapses from LTS cells usually depress, which may reduce their effectiveness at high rates. We ask: by which mechanisms and at what firing rates do LTS neurons control the activity of cortical circuits responding to thalamic input, and how is control by LTS neurons different from that of FS neurons? We study rate models of circuits that include RS cells and LTS and FS inhibitory cells with short-term synaptic plasticity. LTS neurons shift the RS firing-rate vs. current curve to the right at high rates and reduce its slope at low rates; the LTS effect is delayed and prolonged. FS neurons always shift the curve to the right and affect RS firing transiently. In an RS-LTS-FS network, FS neurons reach a quiescent state if they receive weak input, LTS neurons are quiescent if RS neurons receive weak input, and both FS and RS populations are active if they both receive large inputs. In general, FS neurons tend to follow the spiking of RS neurons much more closely than LTS neurons. A novel type of facilitation-induced slow oscillations is observed above the LTS firing threshold with a frequency determined by the time scale of recovery from facilitation. To conclude, contrary to earlier proposals, LTS neurons affect the transient and steady state responses of cortical circuits over a range of firing rates, not only during the high rate regime; LTS neurons protect against over-activation about as well as FS neurons.
Computational quest for understanding the role of astrocyte signaling in synaptic transmission and plasticity  [PDF]
Maurizio De Pittà,Vladislav Volman,Hugues Berry,Vladimir Parpura,Andrea Volterra,Eshel Ben-Jacob
Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience , 2012, DOI: 10.3389/fncom.2012.00098
Abstract: The complexity of the signaling network that underlies astrocyte-synapse interactions may seem discouraging when tackled from a theoretical perspective. Computational modeling is challenged by the fact that many details remain hitherto unknown and conventional approaches to describe synaptic function are unsuitable to explain experimental observations when astrocytic signaling is taken into account. Supported by experimental evidence is the possibility that astrocytes perform genuine information processing by means of their calcium signaling and are players in the physiological setting of the basal tone of synaptic transmission. Here we consider the plausibility of this scenario from a theoretical perspective, focusing on the modulation of synaptic release probability by the astrocyte and its implications on synaptic plasticity. The analysis of the signaling pathways underlying such modulation refines our notion of tripartite synapse and has profound implications on our understanding of brain function.
Frequency-dependent gating of synaptic transmission and plasticity by dopamine  [PDF]
Hiroshi T. Ito,Erin M. Schuman
Frontiers in Neural Circuits , 2007, DOI: 10.3389/neuro.04.001.2007
Abstract: The neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) plays an important role in learning by enhancing the saliency of behaviorally relevant stimuli. How this stimulus selection is achieved on the cellular level, however, is not known. Here, in recordings from hippocampal slices, we show that DA acts specifically at the direct cortical input to hippocampal area CA1 (the temporoammonic (TA) pathway) to filter the excitatory drive onto pyramidal neurons based on the input frequency. During low-frequency patterns of stimulation, DA depressed excitatory TA inputs to both CA1 pyramidal neurons and local inhibitory GABAergic interneurons via presynaptic inhibition. In contrast, during high-frequency patterns of stimulation, DA potently facilitated the TA excitatory drive onto CA1 pyramidal neurons, owing to diminished feedforward inhibition. Analysis of DA's effects over a broad range of stimulus frequencies indicates that it acts as a high-pass filter, augmenting the response to high-frequency inputs while diminishing the impact of low-frequency inputs. These modulatory effects of DA exert a profound influence on activity-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity at both TA-CA1 and Schaffer-collateral (SC)-CA1 synapses. Taken together, our data demonstrate that DA acts as a gate on the direct cortical input to the hippocampus, modulating information flow and synaptic plasticity in a frequency-dependent manner.
Pentylenetetrazol-Induced Epileptiform Activity Affects Basal Synaptic Transmission and Short-Term Plasticity in Monosynaptic Connections  [PDF]
Carlo Natale Giuseppe Giachello, Federica Premoselli, Pier Giorgio Montarolo, Mirella Ghirardi
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056968
Abstract: Epileptic activity is generally induced in experimental models by local application of epileptogenic drugs, including pentylenetetrazol (PTZ), widely used on both vertebrate and invertebrate neurons. Despite the high prevalence of this neurological disorder and the extensive research on it, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying epileptogenesis still remain unclear. In this work, we examined PTZ-induced neuronal changes in Helix monosynaptic circuits formed in vitro, as a simpler experimental model to investigate the effects of epileptiform activity on both basal release and post-tetanic potentiation (PTP), a form of short-term plasticity. We observed a significant enhancement of basal synaptic strength, with kinetics resembling those of previously described use-dependent forms of plasticity, determined by changes in estimated quantal parameters, such as the readily releasable pool and the release probability. Moreover, these neurons exhibited a strong reduction in PTP expression and in its decay time constant, suggesting an impairment in the dynamic reorganization of synaptic vesicle pools following prolonged stimulation of synaptic transmission. In order to explain this imbalance, we determined whether epileptic activity is related to the phosphorylation level of synapsin, which is known to modulate synaptic plasticity. Using western blot and immunocytochemical staining we found a PTZ-dependent increase in synapsin phosphorylation at both PKA/CaMKI/IV and MAPK/Erk sites, both of which are important for modulating synaptic plasticity. Taken together, our findings suggest that prolonged epileptiform activity leads to an increase in the synapsin phosphorylation status, thereby contributing to an alteration of synaptic strength in both basal condition and tetanus-induced potentiation.
“Self” versus “Non-Self” Connectivity Dictates Properties of Synaptic Transmission and Plasticity  [PDF]
Huisheng Liu, Edwin R. Chapman, Camin Dean
PLOS ONE , 2013, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062414
Abstract: Autapses are connections between a neuron and itself. These connections are morphologically similar to “normal” synapses between two different neurons, and thus were long thought to have similar properties of synaptic transmission. However, this has not been directly tested. Here, using a micro-island culture assay in which we can define the number of interconnected cells, we directly compared synaptic transmission in excitatory autapses and in two-neuron micronetworks consisting of two excitatory neurons, in which a neuron is connected to one other neuron and to itself. We discovered that autaptic synapses are optimized for maximal transmission, and exhibited enhanced EPSC amplitude, charge, and RRP size compared to interneuronal synapses. However, autapses are deficient in several aspects of synaptic plasticity. Short-term potentiation only became apparent when a neuron was connected to another neuron. This acquisition of plasticity only required reciprocal innervation with one other neuron; micronetworks consisting of just two interconnected neurons exhibited enhanced short-term plasticity in terms of paired pulse ratio (PPR) and release probability (Pr), compared to autapses. Interestingly, when a neuron was connected to another neuron, not only interneuronal synapses, but also the autaptic synapses on itself exhibited a trend toward enhanced short-term plasticity in terms of PPR and Pr. Thus neurons can distinguish whether they are connected via “self” or “non-self” synapses and have the ability to adjust their plasticity parameters when connected to other neurons.
Active Hippocampal Networks Undergo Spontaneous Synaptic Modification  [PDF]
Masako Tsukamoto-Yasui, Takuya Sasaki, Wataru Matsumoto, Ayako Hasegawa, Takeshi Toyoda, Atsushi Usami, Yuichi Kubota, Taku Ochiai, Tomokatsu Hori, Norio Matsuki, Yuji Ikegaya
PLOS ONE , 2007, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0001250
Abstract: The brain is self-writable; as the brain voluntarily adapts itself to a changing environment, the neural circuitry rearranges its functional connectivity by referring to its own activity. How the internal activity modifies synaptic weights is largely unknown, however. Here we report that spontaneous activity causes complex reorganization of synaptic connectivity without any external (or artificial) stimuli. Under physiologically relevant ionic conditions, CA3 pyramidal cells in hippocampal slices displayed spontaneous spikes with bistable slow oscillations of membrane potential, alternating between the so-called UP and DOWN states. The generation of slow oscillations did not require fast synaptic transmission, but their patterns were coordinated by local circuit activity. In the course of generating spontaneous activity, individual neurons acquired bidirectional long-lasting synaptic modification. The spontaneous synaptic plasticity depended on a rise in intracellular calcium concentrations of postsynaptic cells, but not on NMDA receptor activity. The direction and amount of the plasticity varied depending on slow oscillation patterns and synapse locations, and thus, they were diverse in a network. Once this global synaptic refinement occurred, the same neurons now displayed different patterns of spontaneous activity, which in turn exhibited different levels of synaptic plasticity. Thus, active networks continuously update their internal states through ongoing synaptic plasticity. With computational simulations, we suggest that with this slow oscillation-induced plasticity, a recurrent network converges on a more specific state, compared to that with spike timing-dependent plasticity alone.
Energy Efficient Sparse Connectivity from Imbalanced Synaptic Plasticity Rules  [PDF]
Jo?o Sacramento?,Andreas Wichert?,Mark C. W. van Rossum
PLOS Computational Biology , 2015, DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004265
Abstract: It is believed that energy efficiency is an important constraint in brain evolution. As synaptic transmission dominates energy consumption, energy can be saved by ensuring that only a few synapses are active. It is therefore likely that the formation of sparse codes and sparse connectivity are fundamental objectives of synaptic plasticity. In this work we study how sparse connectivity can result from a synaptic learning rule of excitatory synapses. Information is maximised when potentiation and depression are balanced according to the mean presynaptic activity level and the resulting fraction of zero-weight synapses is around 50%. However, an imbalance towards depression increases the fraction of zero-weight synapses without significantly affecting performance. We show that imbalanced plasticity corresponds to imposing a regularising constraint on the L1-norm of the synaptic weight vector, a procedure that is well-known to induce sparseness. Imbalanced plasticity is biophysically plausible and leads to more efficient synaptic configurations than a previously suggested approach that prunes synapses after learning. Our framework gives a novel interpretation to the high fraction of silent synapses found in brain regions like the cerebellum.
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