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133 Publications

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    Svoboda LabHarris LabFetter Lab
    11/12/13 | Thalamocortical input onto layer 5 pyramidal neurons measured using quantitative large-scale array tomography.
    Rah J, Bas E, Colonell J, Mishchenko Y, Karsh B, Fetter RD, Myers EW, Chklovskii DB, Svoboda K, Harris TD, Isaac JT
    Frontiers in Neural Circuits. 2013;7:177. doi: 10.3389/fncir.2013.00177

    The subcellular locations of synapses on pyramidal neurons strongly influences dendritic integration and synaptic plasticity. Despite this, there is little quantitative data on spatial distributions of specific types of synaptic input. Here we use array tomography (AT), a high-resolution optical microscopy method, to examine thalamocortical (TC) input onto layer 5 pyramidal neurons. We first verified the ability of AT to identify synapses using parallel electron microscopic analysis of TC synapses in layer 4. We then use large-scale array tomography (LSAT) to measure TC synapse distribution on L5 pyramidal neurons in a 1.00 × 0.83 × 0.21 mm(3) volume of mouse somatosensory cortex. We found that TC synapses primarily target basal dendrites in layer 5, but also make a considerable input to proximal apical dendrites in L4, consistent with previous work. Our analysis further suggests that TC inputs are biased toward certain branches and, within branches, synapses show significant clustering with an excess of TC synapse nearest neighbors within 5-15 μm compared to a random distribution. Thus, we show that AT is a sensitive and quantitative method to map specific types of synaptic input on the dendrites of entire neurons. We anticipate that this technique will be of wide utility for mapping functionally-relevant anatomical connectivity in neural circuits.

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    Svoboda Lab
    10/30/13 | Distinct balance of excitation and inhibition in an interareal feedforward and feedback circuit of mouse visual cortex.
    Yang W, Carrasquillo Y, Hooks BM, Nerbonne JM, Burkhalter A
    The Journal of Neuroscience. 2013 Oct 30;33(44):17373-84. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2515-13.2013

    Mouse visual cortex is subdivided into multiple distinct, hierarchically organized areas that are interconnected through feedforward (FF) and feedback (FB) pathways. The principal synaptic targets of FF and FB axons that reciprocally interconnect primary visual cortex (V1) with the higher lateromedial extrastriate area (LM) are pyramidal cells (Pyr) and parvalbumin (PV)-expressing GABAergic interneurons. Recordings in slices of mouse visual cortex have shown that layer 2/3 Pyr cells receive excitatory monosynaptic FF and FB inputs, which are opposed by disynaptic inhibition. Most notably, inhibition is stronger in the FF than FB pathway, suggesting pathway-specific organization of feedforward inhibition (FFI). To explore the hypothesis that this difference is due to diverse pathway-specific strengths of the inputs to PV neurons we have performed subcellular Channelrhodopsin-2-assisted circuit mapping in slices of mouse visual cortex. Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings were obtained from retrobead-labeled FFV1→LM- and FBLM→V1-projecting Pyr cells, as well as from tdTomato-expressing PV neurons. The results show that the FFV1→LM pathway provides on average 3.7-fold stronger depolarizing input to layer 2/3 inhibitory PV neurons than to neighboring excitatory Pyr cells. In the FBLM→V1 pathway, depolarizing inputs to layer 2/3 PV neurons and Pyr cells were balanced. Balanced inputs were also found in the FFV1→LM pathway to layer 5 PV neurons and Pyr cells, whereas FBLM→V1 inputs to layer 5 were biased toward Pyr cells. The findings indicate that FFI in FFV1→LM and FBLM→V1 circuits are organized in a pathway- and lamina-specific fashion.

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    10/14/13 | A neuron-based screening platform for optimizing genetically-encoded calcium indicators.
    Wardill TJ, Chen T, Schreiter ER, Hasseman JP, Tsegaye G, Fosque BF, Behnam R, Shields BC, Ramirez M, Kimmel BE, Kerr RA, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS
    PLoS One. 2013;8:e77728. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077728

    Fluorescent protein-based sensors for detecting neuronal activity have been developed largely based on non-neuronal screening systems. However, the dynamics of neuronal state variables (e.g., voltage, calcium, etc.) are typically very rapid compared to those of non-excitable cells. We developed an electrical stimulation and fluorescence imaging platform based on dissociated rat primary neuronal cultures. We describe its use in testing genetically-encoded calcium indicators (GECIs). Efficient neuronal GECI expression was achieved using lentiviruses containing a neuronal-selective gene promoter. Action potentials (APs) and thus neuronal calcium levels were quantitatively controlled by electrical field stimulation, and fluorescence images were recorded. Images were segmented to extract fluorescence signals corresponding to individual GECI-expressing neurons, which improved sensitivity over full-field measurements. We demonstrate the superiority of screening GECIs in neurons compared with solution measurements. Neuronal screening was useful for efficient identification of variants with both improved response kinetics and high signal amplitudes. This platform can be used to screen many types of sensors with cellular resolution under realistic conditions where neuronal state variables are in relevant ranges with respect to timing and amplitude.

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    Jayaraman LabLooger LabSvoboda LabSchreiter LabGENIE
    07/18/13 | Ultrasensitive fluorescent proteins for imaging neuronal activity.
    Chen T, Wardill TJ, Sun Y, Pulvar SR, Renninger SL, Baohan A, Schreiter ER, Kerr RA, Orger MB, Jayaraman V, Looger LL, Svoboda K, Kim DS
    Nature. 2013 Jul 18;499:295-300. doi: 10.1038/nature12354

    Fluorescent calcium sensors are widely used to image neural activity. Using structure-based mutagenesis and neuron-based screening, we developed a family of ultrasensitive protein calcium sensors (GCaMP6) that outperformed other sensors in cultured neurons and in zebrafish, flies and mice in vivo. In layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons of the mouse visual cortex, GCaMP6 reliably detected single action potentials in neuronal somata and orientation-tuned synaptic calcium transients in individual dendritic spines. The orientation tuning of structurally persistent spines was largely stable over timescales of weeks. Orientation tuning averaged across spine populations predicted the tuning of their parent cell. Although the somata of GABAergic neurons showed little orientation tuning, their dendrites included highly tuned dendritic segments (5–40-µm long). GCaMP6 sensors thus provide new windows into the organization and dynamics of neural circuits over multiple spatial and temporal scales.

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    Svoboda Lab
    07/02/13 | Aβ induces astrocytic glutamate release, extrasynaptic NMDA receptor activation, and synaptic loss.
    Talantova M, Sanz-Blasco S, Zhang X, Xia P, Akhtar MW, Okamoto S, Dziewczapolski G, Nakamura T, Cao G, Pratt AE, Kang Y, Tu S, Molokanova E, McKercher SR, Hires SA, Sason H, Stouffer DG, Buczynski MW, Solomon JP, Michael S, Powers ET, Kelly JW, Roberts A, Tong G, Fang-Newmeyer T, Parker J, Holland EA, Zhang D, Nakanishi N, Chen HV, Wolosker H, Wang Y, Parsons LH, Ambasudhan R, Masliah E, Heinemann SF, Piña-Crespo JC, Lipton SA
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013 Jul 2;110(27):E2518-27. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1306832110

    Synaptic loss is the cardinal feature linking neuropathology to cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). However, the mechanism of synaptic damage remains incompletely understood. Here, using FRET-based glutamate sensor imaging, we show that amyloid-β peptide (Aβ) engages α7 nicotinic acetylcholine receptors to induce release of astrocytic glutamate, which in turn activates extrasynaptic NMDA receptors (eNMDARs) on neurons. In hippocampal autapses, this eNMDAR activity is followed by reduction in evoked and miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs). Decreased mEPSC frequency may reflect early synaptic injury because of concurrent eNMDAR-mediated NO production, tau phosphorylation, and caspase-3 activation, each of which is implicated in spine loss. In hippocampal slices, oligomeric Aβ induces eNMDAR-mediated synaptic depression. In AD-transgenic mice compared with wild type, whole-cell recordings revealed excessive tonic eNMDAR activity accompanied by eNMDAR-sensitive loss of mEPSCs. Importantly, the improved NMDAR antagonist NitroMemantine, which selectively inhibits extrasynaptic over physiological synaptic NMDAR activity, protects synapses from Aβ-induced damage both in vitro and in vivo.

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    Svoboda Lab
    06/02/13 | Neural coding during active somatosensation revealed using illusory touch.
    O’Connor DH, Hires SA, Guo ZV, Li N, Yu J, Sun Q, Huber D, Svoboda K
    Nature Neuroscience. 2013 Jun 2;16(7):958-65. doi: 10.1038/nn.3419

    Active sensation requires the convergence of external stimuli with representations of body movements. We used mouse behavior, electrophysiology and optogenetics to dissect the temporal interactions among whisker movement, neural activity and sensation of touch. We photostimulated layer 4 activity in single barrels in a closed loop with whisking. Mimicking touch-related neural activity caused illusory perception of an object at a particular location, but scrambling the timing of the spikes over one whisking cycle (tens of milliseconds) did not abolish the illusion, indicating that knowledge of instantaneous whisker position is unnecessary for discriminating object locations. The illusions were induced only during bouts of directed whisking, when mice expected touch, and in the relevant barrel. Reducing activity biased behavior, consistent with a spike count code for object detection at a particular location. Our results show that mice integrate coding of touch with movement over timescales of a whisking bout to produce perception of active touch.

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    Svoboda Lab
    04/17/13 | The mechanical variables underlying object localization along the axis of the whisker.
    Pammer L, O’Connor DH, Hires SA, Clack NG, Huber D, Myers EW, Svoboda K
    The Journal of Neuroscience. 2013 Apr 17;33(16):6726-41. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4316-12.2013

    Rodents move their whiskers to locate objects in space. Here we used psychophysical methods to show that head-fixed mice can localize objects along the axis of a single whisker, the radial dimension, with one-millimeter precision. High-speed videography allowed us to estimate the forces and bending moments at the base of the whisker, which underlie radial distance measurement. Mice judged radial object location based on multiple touches. Both the number of touches (1-17) and the forces exerted by the pole on the whisker (up to 573 μN; typical peak amplitude, 100 μN) varied greatly across trials. We manipulated the bending moment and lateral force pressing the whisker against the sides of the follicle and the axial force pushing the whisker into the follicle by varying the compliance of the object during behavior. The behavioral responses suggest that mice use multiple variables (bending moment, axial force, lateral force) to extract radial object localization. Characterization of whisker mechanics revealed that whisker bending stiffness decreases gradually with distance from the face over five orders of magnitude. As a result, the relative amplitudes of different stress variables change dramatically with radial object distance. Our data suggest that mice use distance-dependent whisker mechanics to estimate radial object location using an algorithm that does not rely on precise control of whisking, is robust to variability in whisker forces, and is independent of object compliance and object movement. More generally, our data imply that mice can measure the amplitudes of forces in the sensory follicles for tactile sensation.

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    Looger LabSvoboda LabLeonardo LabSchreiter LabGENIE
    02/01/13 | An optimized fluorescent probe for visualizing glutamate neurotransmission.
    Marvin JS, Borghuis BG, Tian L, Cichon J, Harnett MT, Akerboom J, Gordus A, Renninger SL, Chen T, Bargmann CI, Orger MB, Schreiter ER, Demb JB, Gan W, Hires SA, Looger LL
    Nature Methods. 2013 Feb;10:162-70. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.2333

    We describe an intensity-based glutamate-sensing fluorescent reporter (iGluSnFR) with signal-to-noise ratio and kinetics appropriate for in vivo imaging. We engineered iGluSnFR in vitro to maximize its fluorescence change, and we validated its utility for visualizing glutamate release by neurons and astrocytes in increasingly intact neurological systems. In hippocampal culture, iGluSnFR detected single field stimulus-evoked glutamate release events. In pyramidal neurons in acute brain slices, glutamate uncaging at single spines showed that iGluSnFR responds robustly and specifically to glutamate in situ, and responses correlate with voltage changes. In mouse retina, iGluSnFR-expressing neurons showed intact light-evoked excitatory currents, and the sensor revealed tonic glutamate signaling in response to light stimuli. In worms, glutamate signals preceded and predicted postsynaptic calcium transients. In zebrafish, iGluSnFR revealed spatial organization of direction-selective synaptic activity in the optic tectum. Finally, in mouse forelimb motor cortex, iGluSnFR expression in layer V pyramidal neurons revealed task-dependent single-spine activity during running.

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    Svoboda Lab
    01/09/13 | Organization of cortical and thalamic input to pyramidal neurons in mouse motor cortex.
    Hooks BM, Mao T, Gutnisky DA, Yamawaki N, Svoboda K, Shepherd GM
    The Journal of Neuroscience. 2013 Jan 9;33(2):748-60. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4338-12.2013

    Determining how long-range synaptic inputs engage pyramidal neurons in primary motor cortex (M1) is important for understanding circuit mechanisms involved in regulating movement. We used channelrhodopsin-2-assisted circuit mapping to characterize the long-range excitatory synaptic connections made by multiple cortical and thalamic areas onto pyramidal neurons in mouse vibrissal motor cortex (vM1). Each projection innervated vM1 pyramidal neurons with a unique laminar profile. Collectively, the profiles for different sources of input partially overlapped and spanned all cortical layers. Specifically, orbital cortex (OC) inputs primarily targeted neurons in L6. Secondary motor cortex (M2) inputs excited neurons mainly in L5B, including pyramidal tract neurons. In contrast, thalamocortical inputs from anterior motor-related thalamic regions, including VA/VL (ventral anterior thalamic nucleus/ventrolateral thalamic nucleus), targeted neurons in L2/3 through L5B, but avoided L6. Inputs from posterior sensory-related thalamic areas, including POm (posterior thalamic nuclear group), targeted neurons only in the upper layers (L2/3 and L5A), similar to inputs from somatosensory (barrel) cortex. Our results show that long-range excitatory inputs target vM1 pyramidal neurons in a layer-specific manner. Inputs from sensory-related cortical and thalamic areas preferentially target the upper-layer pyramidal neurons in vM1. In contrast, inputs from OC and M2, areas associated with volitional and cognitive aspects of movements, bypass local circuitry and have direct monosynaptic access to neurons projecting to brainstem and thalamus.

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    Svoboda LabMagee Lab
    12/13/12 | Nonlinear dendritic integration of sensory and motor input during an active sensing task.
    Xu N, Harnett MT, Williams SR, Huber D, O’Connor DH, Svoboda K, Magee JC
    Nature. 2012 Dec 13;492:247-51. doi: 10.1038/nature11601

    Active dendrites provide neurons with powerful processing capabilities. However, little is known about the role of neuronal dendrites in behaviourally related circuit computations. Here we report that a novel global dendritic nonlinearity is involved in the integration of sensory and motor information within layer 5 pyramidal neurons during an active sensing behaviour. Layer 5 pyramidal neurons possess elaborate dendritic arborizations that receive functionally distinct inputs, each targeted to spatially separate regions. At the cellular level, coincident input from these segregated pathways initiates regenerative dendritic electrical events that produce bursts of action potential output and circuits featuring this powerful dendritic nonlinearity can implement computations based on input correlation. To examine this in vivo we recorded dendritic activity in layer 5 pyramidal neurons in the barrel cortex using two-photon calcium imaging in mice performing an object-localization task. Large-amplitude, global calcium signals were observed throughout the apical tuft dendrites when active touch occurred at particular object locations or whisker angles. Such global calcium signals are produced by dendritic plateau potentials that require both vibrissal sensory input and primary motor cortex activity. These data provide direct evidence of nonlinear dendritic processing of correlated sensory and motor information in the mammalian neocortex during active sensation.

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