Type 1 cannabinoid receptors (CB1Rs) are widely expressed in the vertebrate retina but the role of endocannabinoids in vision is not fully understood. Here we identified a novel mechanism underlying a CB1R-mediated increase in retinal ganglion cell (RGC) intrinsic excitability acting through AMPK-dependent inhibition of NKCC1 activity. Clomeleon imaging and patch clamp recordings revealed that inhibition of NKCC1 downstream of CB1R activation reduces intracellular Cl- levels in RGCs, hyperpolarizing the resting membrane potential. We confirmed that such hyperpolarization enhances RGC action potential firing in response to subsequent depolarization, consistent with the increased intrinsic excitability of RGCs observed with CB1R activation. Using a dot avoidance assay in freely swimming Xenopus tadpoles we demonstrate that CB1R activation markedly improves visual contrast sensitivity under low light conditions. These results highlight a role for endocannabinoids in vision, and present a novel mechanism for cannabinoid modulation of neuronal activity through Cl- regulation.
- Jennifer Tsui
- Delphine Gobert
- Edward S Ruthazer
- Edward S Ruthazer
- Loïs S Miraucourt
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: This study was performed in strict accordance with the recommendations in the Canadian Council on Animal Care. All animals were handled according to animal care committee protocols (#5071) approved by the Animal Care Committees of the Montreal Neurological Institute and McGill University.
- Gary L Westbrook, Vollum Institute, United States
© 2016, Miraucourt et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
An animal entering a new environment typically faces three challenges: explore the space for resources, memorize their locations, and navigate towards those targets as needed. Here we propose a neural algorithm that can solve all these problems and operates reliably in diverse and complex environments. At its core, the mechanism makes use of a behavioral module common to all motile animals, namely the ability to follow an odor to its source. We show how the brain can learn to generate internal “virtual odors” that guide the animal to any location of interest. This endotaxis algorithm can be implemented with a simple 3-layer neural circuit using only biologically realistic structures and learning rules. Several neural components of this scheme are found in brains from insects to humans. Nature may have evolved a general mechanism for search and navigation on the ancient backbone of chemotaxis.
Automatic leveraging of information in a hippocampal neuron database to generate mathematical models should help foster interactions between experimental and computational neuroscientists.