Despite numerous physiological studies about reflexes in the spinal cord, the contribution of mechanosensory feedback to active locomotion and the nature of underlying spinal circuits remains elusive. Here we investigate how mechanosensory feedback shapes active locomotion in a genetic model organism exhibiting simple locomotion—the zebrafish larva. We show that mechanosensory feedback enhances the recruitment of motor pools during active locomotion. Furthermore, we demonstrate that inputs from mechanosensory neurons increase locomotor speed by prolonging fast swimming at the expense of slow swimming during stereotyped acoustic escape responses. This effect could be mediated by distinct mechanosensory neurons. In the spinal cord, we show that connections compatible with monosynaptic inputs from mechanosensory Rohon-Beard neurons onto ipsilateral V2a interneurons selectively recruited at high speed can contribute to the observed enhancement of speed. Altogether, our study reveals the basic principles and a circuit diagram enabling speed modulation by mechanosensory feedback in the vertebrate spinal cord.
- Claire Wyart
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All procedures were approved by the Institutional Ethics Committee at the Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle épinière (ICM), Paris, France, the Ethical Committee Charles Darwin and received subsequent approval from the EEC (2010/63/EU).
- Ronald L Calabrese, Emory University, United States
© 2017, Wyart 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.
Dynamic Ca2+ signals reflect acute changes in membrane excitability, and also mediate signaling cascades in chronic processes. In both cases, chronic Ca2+ imaging is often desired, but challenged by the cytotoxicity intrinsic to calmodulin (CaM)-based GCaMP, a series of genetically-encoded Ca2+ indicators that have been widely applied. Here, we demonstrate the performance of GCaMP-X in chronic Ca2+ imaging of cortical neurons, where GCaMP-X by design is to eliminate the unwanted interactions between the conventional GCaMP and endogenous (apo)CaM-binding proteins. By expressing in adult mice at high levels over an extended time frame, GCaMP-X showed less damage and improved performance in two-photon imaging of sensory (whisker-deflection) responses or spontaneous Ca2+ fluctuations, in comparison with GCaMP. Chronic Ca2+ imaging of one month or longer was conducted for cultured cortical neurons expressing GCaMP-X, unveiling that spontaneous/local Ca2+ transients progressively developed into autonomous/global Ca2+ oscillations. Along with the morphological indices of neurite length and soma size, the major metrics of oscillatory Ca2+, including rate, amplitude and synchrony were also examined. Dysregulations of both neuritogenesis and Ca2+ oscillations became discernible around 2–3 weeks after virus injection or drug induction to express GCaMP in newborn or mature neurons, which were exacerbated by stronger or prolonged expression of GCaMP. In contrast, neurons expressing GCaMP-X were significantly less damaged or perturbed, altogether highlighting the unique importance of oscillatory Ca2+ to neural development and neuronal health. In summary, GCaMP-X provides a viable solution for Ca2+ imaging applications involving long-time and/or high-level expression of Ca2+ probes.
The automatic initiation of actions can be highly functional. But occasionally these actions cannot be withheld and are released at inappropriate times, impulsively. Striatal activity has been shown to participate in the timing of action sequence initiation and it has been linked to impulsivity. Using a self-initiated task, we trained adult male rats to withhold a rewarded action sequence until a waiting time interval has elapsed. By analyzing neuronal activity we show that the striatal response preceding the initiation of the learned sequence is strongly modulated by the time subjects wait before eliciting the sequence. Interestingly, the modulation is steeper in adolescent rats, which show a strong prevalence of impulsive responses compared to adults. We hypothesize this anticipatory striatal activity reflects the animals’ subjective reward expectation, based on the elapsed waiting time, while the steeper waiting modulation in adolescence reflects age-related differences in temporal discounting, internal urgency states, or explore–exploit balance.