Physiological Interactions between Neuronal Active Conductances And Inositol Trisphosphate Receptors in Neurons and Astrocytes
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Intricate interactions among constituent components are defining hallmarks of biological systems and sculpt physiology across different scales spanning gene networks to behavioural repertoires. Whereas interactions among channels and receptors define neuronal physiology, interactions among different cells specify the characteristic features of network physiology. From a single-neuron perspective, it is now evident that the somato-dendritic plasma membrane of hippocampus pyramidal neurons is endowed with several voltage-gated ion channels (VGICs) with varying biophysical properties and sub cellular expression profiles. Structural and physiological interactions among these channels define generation and propagation of electrical signals, thereby transforming neuronal dendrites to actively excitable membrane endowed with complex computational capabilities. In parallel to this complex network of plasma membrane channels is an elegantly placed continuous intraneuronal membrane of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) that runs throughout the neuronal morphology. Akin to the plasma membrane, the ER is also endowed with a variety of channels and receptors, prominent among them being the inositol trisphosphate (InsP3) receptors (InsP3Rs) and ryanodine receptors (RyR), both of which are calcium release channels. Physiological interactions among these receptors transform the ER into a calcium excitable membrane, capable of active propagation of calcium waves and of spatiotemporal integration of neuronal signals. Thus, a neuron is endowed with two continuously parallel excitable membranes that actively participate in the bidirectional flow of intraneuronal information, through interactions among different channels and receptors on either membrane. Although the interactions among sets of channels and receptors present individually on either membrane are very well characterized, our understanding of cross-membrane interactions among channels and receptors across these two membranes has been very limited. Recent literature has emphasized the critical nature of such cross-membrane interactions and the several physiological roles played by such interactions. Such cross-channel interactions include ER depletion-induced signaling involving store-operated calcium channels, generation and propagation of calcium waves through interactions between plasma membrane and ER membrane receptors, and the plasticity of plasma membrane VGICs and receptors induced by ER Ca2+. Such tight interactions between these two membranes have highlighted several roles of the ER in the integration of intraneuronal information, in regulating signalling microdomains and in regulating the downstream signaling pathways that are regulated by these Ca2+ signals. Yet, our understanding about the functional interactions between the ion channels and receptors present on either of these membranes is very limited from the perspective of the combinatorial possibilities that encompass the span of channels and receptors across these two membranes. In this context, the first part of this thesis deals with two specific instances of such cross-membrane functional interactions, presented as two subparts with each probing different direction of impact. Specifically, whereas the first of these subparts deals with the impact of plasma membrane VGICs on the physiology of ER receptors, the second subpart presents an instance of the effect of ER receptor activation on plasma membrane VGIC. In the first subpart of the thesis, we establish a novel role for the A-type potassium current in regulating the release of calcium through inositol triphosphate receptors (InsP3R) that reside on the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) of hippocampus pyramidal neurons. Specifically, the A-type potassium current has been implicated in the regulation of several physiological processes including the regulation of calcium influx through voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). Given the dependence of InsP3R open probability on cytosolic calcium concentration ([Ca2+]c) we asked if this regulation of calcium influx by A-type potassium current could translate into the regulation of release of calcium through InsP3Rs by the A-type potassium current. To answer this, we constructed morphologically realistic, conductance-based neuronal models equipped with kinetic schemes that govern several calcium signalling modules and pathways, and constrained the distributions and properties of constitutive components by experimental measurements from these neurons. Employing these models, we establish a bell-shaped dependence of calcium release through InsP3Rs on the density of A-type potassium current, during the propagation of an intraneuronal calcium wave initiated through established protocols. Exploring the sensitivities of calcium wave initiation and propagation to several underlying parameters, we found that ER calcium release critically depends on dendrite diameter and wave initiation occurred at branch points as a consequence of high surface area to volume ratio of oblique dendrites. Further, analogous to the role of A-type potassium channels in regulating spike latency, we found that an increase in the density of A-type potassium channels led to increases in the latency and the temporal spread of a propagating calcium wave. Next, we incorporated kinetic models for the metabotropic glutamate receptor (miler) signalling components and a calcium-controlled plasticity rule into our model and demonstrate that the presence of mGluRs induced a leftward shift in a BCM-like synaptic plasticity profile. Finally, we show that the A-type potassium current could regulate the relative contribution of ER calcium to synaptic plasticity induced either through 900 pulses of various stimulus frequencies or through theta burst stimulation. These results establish a novel form of interaction between active dendrites and the ER membrane and suggest that A-type K+ channels are ideally placed for inhibiting the suppression of InsP3Rs in thin-caliber dendrites. Furthermore, they uncover a powerful mechanism that could regulate biophysical/biochemical signal integration and steer the spatiotemporal spread of signalling micro domains through changes in dendritic excitability. In the second subpart, we turned our focus to the role of calcium released through InsP3Rs in regulating the properties of VGICs present on the plasma membrane, thereby altering neuronal intrinsic properties that are dependent on these VGICs. Specifically, the synaptic plasticity literature has focused on establishing necessity and sufficiency as two essential and distinct features in causally relating a signalling molecule to plasticity induction, an approach that has been surprisingly lacking in the intrinsic plasticity literature. Here, we complemented the recently established necessity of inositol trisphosphate (InsP3) receptors (InsP3R) in a form of intrinsic plasticity by asking if ER InsP3R activation was sufficient to induce plasticity in intrinsic properties of hippocampus neurons. To do this, we employed whole-cell patch-clamp recordings to infuse D-myo-InsP3, the endogenous ligand for InsP3Rs, into hippocampus pyramidal neurons and assessed the impact of InsP3R activation on neuronal intrinsic properties. We found that such activation reduced input resistance, maximal impedance amplitude and temporal summation, but increased resonance frequency, resonance strength, sag ratio, and impedance phase lead of hippocampus pyramidal neurons. Strikingly, the magnitude of plasticity in all these measurements was dependent upon [InsP3], emphasizing the graded dependence of such plasticity on InsP3R activation. Mechanistically, we found that this InsP3-induced plasticity depended on hyperpolarization-activated cyclic-nucleotide gated (HCN) channels. Moreover, this calcium-dependent form of plasticity was critically reliant on the release of calcium through InsP3Rs, the influx of calcium through N-methyl-D -aspartate receptors and voltage-gated calcium channels, and on the protein kinase A pathway. These results delineate a causal role for InsP3Rs in graded adaptation of neuronal response dynamics through changes in plasma membrane ion channels, thereby revealing novel regulatory roles for the endoplasmic reticulum in neural coding and homeostasis. Whereas the first part of the thesis dealt with bidirectional interactions between ER membrane and plasma membrane channels/receptors within a neuron, second part focuses on cross-cellular interactions, specifically between ER membrane on astrocytes and dendritic plasma membrane of neurons. Specifically, the universality of ER-dependent calcium signalling ensures that its critical influence extends to regulating the physiology of astrocytes, an abundant form of glial cells in the hippocampus. Due to the presence of calcium release channels on ER membrane, astrocytes are calcium excitable, whereby they respond to neuronal activity by increase in their cytosolic calcium levels. Specifically, astrocytes respond to the release of neurotransmitters from neuronal presynaptic terminals through activation of metabotropic receptors expressed on their plasma membrane. Such activation results in the mobilization of cytosolic InsP3 and subsequent release of calcium through InsP3 on the astrocytes ER membrane. These ER-dependent [Ca2+]c elevations in astrocytes then result in the release of gliotransmitters from astrocytes, which bind to corresponding receptors located on neuronal plasma membrane resulting in voltage-deflections and/or activation of signaling pathways in the neuron. Although it is well established that gliotransmission constitutes an important communication channel between astrocytes and neurons, the impact of gliotransmission on neurons have largely been centered at the cell body of the neurons. Consequently, the impact of the activation of astrocytic InsP3R on neuronal dendrites, and the role of dendritic active conductances in regulating this impact have been lacking. This lacuna in mapping the spatial spread of gliotransmission in neurons is especially striking because most afferent synapses impinge on neuronal dendrites, and a significant proportion of information processing in neurons is performed in their dendritic arborization. Additionally, given that active dendritic conductances play a pivotal role in regulating the impact of fast synaptic neurotransmission on neurons, we hypothesized that such active-dendritic regulation should extend to the impact of slower extrasynaptic gliotransmission on neurons. The second part of the thesis is devoted to testing this hypothesis using dendritic and paired astrocyte-neuron electrophysiological recordings, where we also investigate the specific roles of active dendritic conductances in regulating the impact of gliotransmission initiated through activation of astrocytic InsP3Rs. In testing this hypothesis, in the second part of the thesis, we first demonstrate a significantly large increase in the amplitude of astrocytically originating spontaneous slow excitatory potentials (SEP) in distal dendrites compared to their perisomatic counterparts. Employing specific neuronal infusion of pharmacological agents, we show that blocking HCN channels increased the frequency, rise-time and width of dendritically-recorded spontaneous SEPs, whereas blockade of A-type potassium channels enhanced their amplitude. Next, through paired neuron-astrocytes recordings, we show that our conclusions on the differential roles of HCN and A-type potassium channels in modulating spontaneous SEPs also extended to SEPs induced through infusion of InsP3 in a nearby astrocyte. Additionally, employing subtype-specific receptor blockers during paired neuron-astrocyte recordings, we provide evidence that GluN2B-and GluN2D-containing NMDARs predominantly mediate perisomatic and dendritic SEPs, respectively. Finally, using morphologically realistic conductance-based computational models, we quantitatively demonstrate that dendritic conductances play an active role in mediating compartmentalization of the neuronal impact of gliotransmission. These results unveil an important role for active dendrites in regulating the impact of gliotransmission on neurons, and suggest astrocytes as a source of dendritic plateau potentials that have been implicated in localized plasticity and place cell formation. This thesis is organized into six chapters as follows: Chapter 1 lays the motivations for the questions addressed in the thesis apart from providing the highlights of the results presented here. Chapter 2 provides the background literature for the thesis, introducing facts and concepts that forms the foundation on which the rest of the chapters are built upon. In chapter 3, we present quantitative analyses of the physiological interactions between A-type potassium conductances and InsP3Rs in CA1 pyramidal neurons. In chapter 4, using electrophysiological recordings, we investigate the role of calcium released through InsP3Rs in induction of plasticity of intrinsic response dynamics, and demonstrate that this form of plasticity is consequent to changes in neuronal HCN channels. In chapter 5, we systematically map the spatial dynamics of the impact of gliotransmission on neurons across the somato-apical trunk, also unveiling the role of neuronal HCN and A-type potassium channels in compartmentalizing such impact. Finally, chapter 6 concludes the thesis highlighting its major contributions and discussing directions of future research.
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