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4 Janelia Publications

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    12/14/18 | Motor cortex is an input-driven dynamical system controlling dexterous movement.
    Sauerbrei B, Guo J, Mischiati M, Guo W, Kabra M, Verma N, Branson KM, Hantman AW
    bioRxiv. 2018-12-14:266320. doi: 10.1101/266320

    Skillful control of movement is central to our ability to sense and manipulate the world. A large body of work in nonhuman primates has demonstrated that motor cortex provides flexible, time-varying activity patterns that control the arm during reaching and grasping. Previous studies have suggested that these patterns are generated by strong local recurrent dynamics operating autonomously from inputs during movement execution. An alternative possibility is that motor cortex requires coordination with upstream brain regions throughout the entire movement in order to yield these patterns. Here, we developed an experimental preparation in the mouse to directly test these possibilities using optogenetics and electrophysiology during a skilled reach-to-grab-to-eat task. To validate this preparation, we first established that a specific, time-varying pattern of motor cortical activity was required to produce coordinated movement. Next, in order to disentangle the contribution of local recurrent motor cortical dynamics from external input, we optogenetically held the recurrent contribution constant, then observed how motor cortical activity recovered following the end of this perturbation. Both the neural responses and hand trajectory varied from trial to trial, and this variability reflected variability in external inputs. To directly probe the role of these inputs, we used optogenetics to perturb activity in the thalamus. Thalamic perturbation at the start of the trial prevented movement initiation, and perturbation at any stage of the movement prevented progression of the hand to the target; this demonstrates that input is required throughout the movement. By comparing motor cortical activity with and without thalamic perturbation, we were able to estimate the effects of external inputs on motor cortical population activity. Thus, unlike pattern-generating circuits that are local and autonomous, such as those in the spinal cord that generate left-right alternation during locomotion, the pattern generator for reaching and grasping is distributed across multiple, strongly-interacting brain regions.

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    12/03/18 | Developmental pattern and structural factors of dendritic survival in cerebellar granule cells in vivo.
    Dhar M, Hantman AW, Nishiyama H
    Scientific Reports. 2018 Dec 03;8(1):17561. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-35829-y

    Granule cells (GCs) in the cerebellar cortex are important for sparse encoding of afferent sensorimotor information. Modeling studies show that GCs can perform their function most effectively when they have four dendrites. Indeed, mature GCs have four short dendrites on average, each terminating in a claw-like ending that receives both excitatory and inhibitory inputs. Immature GCs, however, have significantly more dendrites-all without claws. How these redundant dendrites are refined during development is largely unclear. Here, we used in vivo time-lapse imaging and immunohistochemistry to study developmental refinement of GC dendritic arbors and its relation to synapse formation. We found that while the formation of dendritic claws stabilized the dendrites, the selection of surviving dendrites was made before claw formation, and longer immature dendrites had a significantly higher chance of survival than shorter dendrites. Using immunohistochemistry, we show that glutamatergic and GABAergic synapses are transiently formed on immature GC dendrites, and the number of GABAergic, but not glutamatergic, synapses correlates with the length of immature dendrites. Together, these results suggest a potential role of transient GABAergic synapses on dendritic selection and show that preselected dendrites are stabilized by the formation of dendritic claws-the site of mature synapses.

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    11/01/18 | Stability, affinity and chromatic variants of the glutamate sensor iGluSnFR.
    Marvin JS, Scholl B, Wilson DE, Podgorski K, Kazemipour A, Mueller JA, Schoch-McGovern S, Wang SS, Quiroz FJ, Rebola N, Bao H, Little JP, Tkachuk AN, Hantman AW, Chapman ER, Dietrich D, DiGregorio DA, Fitzpatrick D, Looger LL
    Nature Methods. 2018 Nov;15(11):9386-9. doi: 10.1038/s41592-018-0171-3

    Single-wavelength fluorescent reporters allow visualization of specific neurotransmitters with high spatial and temporal resolution. We report variants of intensity-based glutamate-sensing fluorescent reporter (iGluSnFR) that are functionally brighter; detect submicromolar to millimolar amounts of glutamate; and have blue, cyan, green, or yellow emission profiles. These variants could be imaged in vivo in cases where original iGluSnFR was too dim, resolved glutamate transients in dendritic spines and axonal boutons, and allowed imaging at kilohertz rates.

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    03/22/18 | A Neural Circuit for the Suppression of Pain by a Competing Need State.
    Alhadeff AL, Su Z, Hernandez E, Klima ML, Phillips SZ, Holland RA, Guo C, Hantman AW, De Jonghe BC, Betley JN
    Cell. 2018 Mar 22;173(1):140-52. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2018.02.057

    Hunger and pain are two competing signals that individuals must resolve to ensure survival. However, the neural processes that prioritize conflicting survival needs are poorly understood. We discovered that hunger attenuates behavioral responses and affective properties of inflammatory pain without altering acute nociceptive responses. This effect is centrally controlled, as activity in hunger-sensitive agouti-related protein (AgRP)-expressing neurons abrogates inflammatory pain. Systematic analysis of AgRP projection subpopulations revealed that the neural processing of hunger and inflammatory pain converge in the hindbrain parabrachial nucleus (PBN). Strikingly, activity in AgRP → PBN neurons blocked the behavioral response to inflammatory pain as effectively as hunger or analgesics. The anti-nociceptive effect of hunger is mediated by neuropeptide Y (NPY) signaling in the PBN. By investigating the intersection between hunger and pain, we have identified a neural circuit that mediates competing survival needs and uncovered NPY Y1 receptor signaling in the PBN as a target for pain suppression.

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