Synaptic mechanisms modulate the spatiotemporal dynamics of striatal direct pathway neurons and motor output

  1. Department of Neuroscience, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago IL 60611
  2. Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago IL 60611
  3. Department of Pharmacology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University Chicago IL 60611.
  4. Department of Neurobiology, Weinberg School of Arts and Sciences, Northwestern University, Evanston IL 60201

Peer review process

Not revised: This Reviewed Preprint includes the authors’ original preprint (without revision), an eLife assessment, and public reviews.

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  • Reviewing Editor
    Nicole Calakos
    Duke University Medical Center, Durham, United States of America
  • Senior Editor
    John Huguenard
    Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, United States of America

Reviewer #1 (Public Review):


Marshall and coworkers describe the effects of altering metabotropic glutamate receptor 5 activity on locomotion and related activity of D1 receptor expressing spiny projection neurons in dorsolateral striatum. The authors also examine effects of dSPN-specific constitutive mGlu5 deletion in several motor tests. Effects of inhibiting the degradation of the endocannabinoid 2-arachidonoyl glycerol are also examined. Overall, this study provides intriguing new information with relevance to movement disorders and possibly psychosis. However, there are questions about the interpretation of dSPN activity in relation to movement, as well as the analysis approach. Some aspects of the study are also incomplete.


A nice combination of in vivo cellular calcium imaging, pharmacology, receptor knockout and sophisticated movement analysis are used. The authors conclude that mGlu5 expressed in dSPNs contributes to movement through effects on clustered spatial coactivity of dSPNs. Some data suggesting the story may be different in the other major SPN subpopulation (iSPNs) are also presented. The authors also suggest that mGlu5 stimulation of endocannabinoid signaling may play a role in the receptor effects. Overall, this study provides intriguing new information with relevance to movement disorders and possibly psychosis


Major Comments:

(1) The relationship between coactivity and movement in this and the previous study from this group is intriguing. Can the authors offer a hypothesis as to how decreased coactivity promotes increased movement velocity (e.g. as indicated by Figures 2l and 3m, and in the previous study)? Is coactivity during rest part of a "movement preparation" SPN program, or is it simply the case that the actual activity of individual dSPNs starts to contribute to different aspects of movement as velocity increases (given that the majority of neurons appear to show increased event rate during movement).

(2) The authors focus on dSPNs until very late in the study and then provide a little intriguing data suggesting that iSPNs show no difference in coactivity in the mGlu5 cKO mice. However, the basic characterization of the relationship between iSPN coactivity and movement is missing, although Figure 5g does seem to suggest a relationship between coactivity and proximity similar to dSPNs. It would be helpful to include the type of analysis shown in Figure 1 for iMSNs.

(3) The use of the Jaccard similarity index in this study is not intuitive and not fully explained by the methods or the diagram in Figure 1. The more detailed explanations in the previous papers from this group seem to indicate cells are listed as "coactive" if they both show an above-threshold fluorescence increase during a one second time frame after converting signals to a binary "on" or "off" status. However, it seems unlikely that the activity of the neurons would be perfectly or even strongly correlated, as there is bound to be variability in the exact traces from cell to cell. Furthermore, it doesn't seem clear how many frames need to show suprathreshold signals for two neurons to be considered coactive (or does this determine the magnitude of the normalized coactivity y-axis, e.g. in Figure 1i). Thus, while the technique appears to capture some index of coactivity, it does not appear to reveal the true temporal correlations in activity that could be obtained with techniques that use all data points to assess correlations. While this technique may be well suited to determining coactivity based on action potentials, or another all-or-none type biological event, it may not be as optimal for relating calcium transients that have more nuanced features.
Another question is how the one second time frame was chosen. Did the authors run a sensitivity analysis to determine the effect of changing the frame duration on coactivity estimates. This might help determine if the analysis was too conservative in identifying coactive neurons.
These comments may reflect a lack of understanding of the approach on the part of this reviewer. Perhaps a more detailed explanation of the method, maybe including examples of the types of calcium transients that are listed as reflecting coactivity or lack thereof, would clarify the suitability of this technique.

(4) The analysis of a possible 2-AG role in the mGlu5 mediated processes is incomplete and does not add much to the story. As the authors admit, inhibiting MGL globally will have widespread effects on many striatal synapses. Perhaps a dSPN-targeted approach, such as knocking out DAG lipase in dSPNs, would be more informative. For example, one might expect that this knockout would prevent the effects of the JNJ mGlu5 PAM on both movement and dSPN activity. The authors also do not provide any evidence of 2-AG involvement in the synaptic changes they report, although admittedly the role of endocannabinoids in DHPG-induced synaptic depression has been reported in several previous studies.

(5) It would seem to be a simple experiment to examine effects of the mGlu5 NAM in the dSPN mGlu5 cKO mice. If effects of the two manipulations occluded one another this would certainly support the hypothesis that the drug effects are mediated by receptors expressed in dSPNs. A similar argument can be made for examining effects of the JNJ PAM in the cKO mice.

Minor Comments:

(i) The use of CsF-based whole-cell internal solutions has caused concern in some past studies due to possible interference with G-protein, phosphatase and channel function (, It is reassuring the DHPG-induced LTD was still observable with this solution. However, it might be worth examining this plasticity with a different internal to ensure that the magnitude of the agonist effect is not altered by this manipulation.

(ii) The Kreitzer and Malenka 2007 paper may not be the best to cite in the context of dSPN-related synaptic plasticity, as these authors claimed that DHPG-induced LTD was restricted to iSPNs (an observation that has not generally been supported by subsequent work in several laboratories).

Reviewer #2 (Public Review):

Strengths are that the topic is of significant interest and understudied and the combination of both genetic and pharmacological approaches. However, while there is great enthusiasm for the need to better understand mGluR5 roles in striatal circuitry, in its present form, there are three overarching concerns that significantly limit the impact of this study. First, while a Jaccard method is used to measure the spatiotemporal dynamics of dSPN activity, collectively the data herein do not support the authors' interpretation of the data that mGluR5 is a modulator of spatiotemporal dSPN dynamics. Specifically, pharmacological and genetic manipulations of mGluR5 do not differentially/preferentially modulate the activity of proximal vs distal dSPNs, therefore, it could also be interpreted that mGluR5 is blanketly boosting/suppressing all dSPN activity as opposed to differential proximal/distal spatial relationships. While this is acknowledged in the manuscript (Figure 2i), it leaves open for question the extent to which mGluR5 is modulating other aspects of dSPN activity independent of the spatiotemporal relationship across dSPNs (i.e. amplitude, firing probability, etc.). Second, while it is a strength that mGluR5 NAM, PAM, and D1 Cre mGluR5-cKO were used to bidirectionally manipulate mGluR5 signaling, the manuscript lacks a clear model of where mGluR5 is acting to affect dSPN activity. This concern can be readily addressed by treating D1 Cre mGluR5-cKO mice with the mGluR5 NAM (as described in Ln. 413-416) to determine the extent to which other sources of mGluR5 are contributing to dSPN activity. The authors' working model predicts that the NAM would have no significant effects on the D1 Grm5 cKO model. Third, there are some concerns about the statistical basis for conclusions that are drawn detailed below that when addressed will strengthen the rigor of the conclusions. Addressing these suggestions should strengthen the mechanistic understanding and further allow the authors to present a more clear working model for their findings.

Reviewer #3 (Public Review):


The manuscript by Marshall et al. investigates the role mGluR5 in modulating the coactivity of d1 spiny projection neurons (dSPN) in the dorsolateral striatum through calcium imaging and pharmacological i.p. injections or targeted deletion of mGluR5 in dSPNs. They show a bidirectional modulation by negative and positive allosteric modulators respectively (mainly at rest) on dSPN coactivity, the increase in coactivity by the negative modulator showed qualitative similar effects on coactivity as the deletion of mGluR5 in dSPNs.


Overall the study is well written and easy to read, with the data supporting (most of the time) the conclusion. It brings a new perspective on the role of mGluR5 in the modulation of dSPNs coactivity and its correlation with movement.


Some of the experiments would strengthen the solidness of the study providing further information and verifying the claims of the main text with the statistics on the figure legends.

  1. Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  2. Wellcome Trust
  3. Max-Planck-Gesellschaft
  4. Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation