Keratinocytes are the most abundant cell type in the epidermis, the most superficial layer of skin. Historically, epidermal-innervating sensory neurons were thought to be the exclusive detectors and transmitters of environmental stimuli. However, recent work from our lab (Moehring et al., 2018) and others (Baumbauer et al., 2015) has demonstrated that keratinocytes are also critical for normal mechanotransduction and mechanically-evoked behavioral responses in mice. Here, we asked whether keratinocyte activity is also required for normal cold and heat sensation. Using calcium imaging, we determined that keratinocyte cold activity is conserved across mammalian species and requires the release of intracellular calcium through one or more unknown cold-sensitive proteins. Both epidermal cell optogenetic inhibition and interruption of ATP-P2X4 signaling reduced reflexive behavioral responses to cold and heat stimuli. Based on these data and our previous findings, keratinocyte purinergic signaling is a modality-conserved amplification system that is required for normal somatosensation in vivo.
All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files.
- Cheryl L Stucky
- Cheryl L Stucky
- Cheryl L Stucky
- Katelyn E Sadler
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Animal experimentation: All protocols were in accordance with National Institutes of Health guidelines and were approved by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee at the Medical College of Wisconsin (Milwaukee, WI; protocol #383).
- David D Ginty, Harvard Medical School, United States
© 2020, Sadler 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.
How thermal, mechanical and chemical stimuli applied to the skin are transduced into signals transmitted by peripheral neurons to the CNS is an area of intense study. Several studies indicate that transduction mechanisms are intrinsic to cutaneous neurons and that epidermal keratinocytes only modulate this transduction. Using mice expressing channelrhodopsin (ChR2) in keratinocytes we show that blue light activation of the epidermis alone can produce action potentials (APs) in multiple types of cutaneous sensory neurons including SA1, A-HTMR, CM, CH, CMC, CMH and CMHC fiber types. In loss of function studies, yellow light stimulation of keratinocytes that express halorhodopsin reduced AP generation in response to naturalistic stimuli. These findings support the idea that intrinsic sensory transduction mechanisms in epidermal keratinocytes can directly elicit AP firing in nociceptive as well as tactile sensory afferents and suggest a significantly expanded role for the epidermis in sensory processing.
During deep anesthesia, the electroencephalographic (EEG) signal of the brain alternates between bursts of activity and periods of relative silence (suppressions). The origin of burst-suppression and its distribution across the brain remain matters of debate. In this work, we used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to map the brain areas involved in anesthesia-induced burst-suppression across four mammalian species: humans, long-tailed macaques, common marmosets, and rats. At first, we determined the fMRI signatures of burst-suppression in human EEG-fMRI data. Applying this method to animal fMRI datasets, we found distinct burst-suppression signatures in all species. The burst-suppression maps revealed a marked inter-species difference: in rats, the entire neocortex engaged in burst-suppression, while in primates most sensory areas were excluded—predominantly the primary visual cortex. We anticipate that the identified species-specific fMRI signatures and whole-brain maps will guide future targeted studies investigating the cellular and molecular mechanisms of burst-suppression in unconscious states.