Neurotransmitter corelease is emerging as a common theme of central neuromodulatory systems. Though corelease of glutamate or GABA with acetylcholine has been reported within the cholinergic system, the full extent is unknown. To explore synaptic signaling of cholinergic forebrain neurons, we activated choline acetyltransferase expressing neurons using channelrhodopsin while recording post-synaptic currents (PSCs) in layer 1 interneurons. Surprisingly, we observed PSCs mediated by GABAA receptors in addition to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Based on PSC latency and pharmacological sensitivity, our results suggest monosynaptic release of both GABA and ACh. Anatomical analysis showed that forebrain cholinergic neurons express the GABA synthetic enzyme Gad2 and the vesicular GABA transporter (Slc32a1). We confirmed the direct release of GABA by knocking out Slc32a1 from cholinergic neurons. Our results identify GABA as an overlooked fast neurotransmitter utilized throughout the forebrain cholinergic system. GABA/ACh corelease may have major implications for modulation of cortical function by cholinergic neurons.
Animal experimentation: All experimental manipulations were performed in accordance with a protocol (#03551) approved by the Harvard Standing Committee on Animal Care following guidelines described in the US National Institutes of Health Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals.
- Sacha B Nelson, Brandeis University, United States
© 2015, Saunders et al.
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The circadian clock orchestrates daily changes in physiology and behavior to ensure internal temporal order and optimal timing across the day. In animals, a central brain clock coordinates circadian rhythms throughout the body and is characterized by a remarkable robustness that depends on synaptic connections between constituent neurons. The clock neuron network of Drosophila, which shares network motifs with clock networks in the mammalian brain yet is built of many fewer neurons, offers a powerful model for understanding the network properties of circadian timekeeping. Here we report an assessment of synaptic connectivity within a clock network, focusing on the critical lateral neuron (LN) clock neuron classes within the Janelia hemibrain dataset. Our results reveal that previously identified anatomical and functional subclasses of LNs represent distinct connectomic types. Moreover, we identify a small number of non-clock cell subtypes representing highly synaptically coupled nodes within the clock neuron network. This suggests that neurons lacking molecular timekeeping likely play integral roles within the circadian timekeeping network. To our knowledge, this represents the first comprehensive connectomic analysis of a circadian neuronal network.
Mutations in the RNA helicase, DDX3X, are a leading cause of Intellectual Disability and present as DDX3X syndrome, a neurodevelopmental disorder associated with cortical malformations and autism. Yet, the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which DDX3X controls cortical development are largely unknown. Here, using a mouse model of Ddx3x loss-of-function we demonstrate that DDX3X directs translational and cell cycle control of neural progenitors, which underlies precise corticogenesis. First, we show brain development is sensitive to Ddx3x dosage; complete Ddx3x loss from neural progenitors causes microcephaly in females, whereas hemizygous males and heterozygous females show reduced neurogenesis without marked microcephaly. In addition, Ddx3x loss is sexually dimorphic, as its paralog, Ddx3y, compensates for Ddx3x in the developing male neocortex. Using live imaging of progenitors, we show that DDX3X promotes neuronal generation by regulating both cell cycle duration and neurogenic divisions. Finally, we use ribosome profiling in vivo to discover the repertoire of translated transcripts in neural progenitors, including those which are DDX3X-dependent and essential for neurogenesis. Our study reveals invaluable new insights into the etiology of DDX3X syndrome, implicating dysregulated progenitor cell cycle dynamics and translation as pathogenic mechanisms.