Travel award for Gerry Holmes!

Congratulations, Gerry!  Junior DU student, bio major, and all-around Slug Lab superstar won a Faculty for Undergraduate Neuroscience Travel Award to attend this year’s Society for Neuroscience Meeting in San Diego, CA.  It was a competitive and international field, but Gerry nabbed one of these prestigious awards to present her ongoing work on the transcriptional mechanisms of long-term habituation.  Shown in the photo on the left is Gerry (left), Dr C-J (middle) and lab alumni Kristine Bonnick (right) who visisted the poster and the meeting from Loma Linda medical school where she is now enrolled.  In the photo on the right, Dr. Bob makes an appearance.  Go sluglab!

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An Aplysia Egr homolog is rapidly and persistently regulated by long-term sensitization training

Cyriac A, Holmes G, Lass J, Belchenko D, Calin-Jageman RJ, Calin-Jageman IE

Neurobiol Learn Mem 2013 May;102:43-51

PMID: 23567107

Abstract

The Egr family of transcription factors plays a key role in long-term plasticity and memory in a number of vertebrate species. Here we identify and characterize ApEgr (GenBank: KC608221), an Egr homolog in the marine mollusk Aplysia californica. ApEgr codes for a predicted 593-amino acid protein with the highly conserved trio of zinc-fingered domains in the C-terminus that characterizes the Egr family of transcription factors. Promoter analysis shows that the ApEgr protein selectively recognizes the GSG motif recognized by vertebrate Egrs. Like mammalian Egrs, ApEgr is constitutively expressed in a range of tissues, including the CNS. Moreover, expression of ApEgr is bi-directionally regulated by changes in neural activity. Of most interest, the association between ApEgr function and memory may be conserved in Aplysia, as we observe rapid and long-lasting up-regulation of expression after long-term sensitization training. Taken together, our results suggest that Egrs may have memory functions that are conserved from mammals to mollusks.

Harmonin enhances voltage-dependent facilitation of Cav1.3 channels and synchronous exocytosis in mouse inner hair cells

Gregory FD, Pangrsic T, Calin-Jageman IE, Moser T, Lee A

J. Physiol. (Lond.) 2013 Jul;591(Pt 13):3253-69

PMID: 23613530

Abstract

Cav1.3 channels mediate Ca(2+) influx that triggers exocytosis of glutamate at cochlear inner hair cell (IHC) synapses. Harmonin is a PDZ-domain-containing protein that interacts with the C-terminus of the Cav1.3 α1 subunit (α11.3) and controls cell surface Cav1.3 levels by promoting ubiquitin-dependent proteosomal degradation. However, PDZ-domain-containing proteins have diverse functions and regulate other Cav1.3 properties, which could collectively influence presynaptic transmitter release. Here, we report that harmonin binding to the α11.3 distal C-terminus (dCT) enhances voltage-dependent facilitation (VDF) of Cav1.3 currents both in transfected HEK293T cells and in mouse inner hair cells. In HEK293T cells, this effect of harmonin was greater for Cav1.3 channels containing the auxiliary Cav β1 than with the β2 auxiliary subunit. Cav1.3 channels lacking the α11.3 dCT were insensitive to harmonin modulation. Moreover, the ‘deaf-circler’ dfcr mutant form of harmonin, which does not interact with the α11.3 dCT, did not promote VDF. In mature IHCs from mice expressing the dfcr harmonin mutant, Cav1.3 VDF was less than in control IHCs. This difference was not observed between control and dfcr IHCs prior to hearing onset. Membrane capacitance recordings from dfcr IHCs revealed a role for harmonin in synchronous exocytosis and in increasing the efficiency of Ca(2+) influx for triggering exocytosis. Collectively, our results indicate a multifaceted presynaptic role of harmonin in IHCs in regulating Cav1.3 Ca(2+) channels and exocytosis.

Transcriptional changes following long-term sensitization training and in vivo serotonin exposure in Aplysia californica

Bonnick K, Bayas K, Belchenko D, Cyriac A, Dove M, Lass J, McBride B, Calin-Jageman IE, Calin-Jageman RJ

PLoS ONE 2012;7(10):e47378

PMID: 23056638

Abstract

We used Aplysia californica to compare the transcriptional changes evoked by long-term sensitization training and by a treatment meant to mimic this training, in vivo exposure to serotonin. We focused on 5 candidate plasticity genes which are rapidly up-regulated in the Aplysia genus by in vivo serotonin treatment, but which have not yet been tested for regulation during sensitization: CREB1, matrilin, antistasin, eIF3e, and BAT1 homolog. CREB1 was rapidly up-regulated by both treatments, but the regulation following training was transient, falling back to control levels 24 hours after training. This suggests some caution in interpreting the proposed role of CREB1 in consolidating long-term sensitization memory. Both matrilin and eIF3e were up-regulated by in vivo serotonin but not by long-term sensitization training. This suggests that in vivo serotonin may produce generalized transcriptional effects that are not specific to long-term sensitization learning. Finally, neither treatment produced regulation of antistasin or BAT1 homolog, transcripts regulated by in vivo serotonin in the closely related Aplysia kurodai. This suggests either that these transcripts are not regulated by experience, or that transcriptional mechanisms of memory may vary within the Aplysia genus.

Glutamate transporters EAAT4 and EAAT5 are expressed in vestibular hair cells and calyx endings

Dalet A, Bonsacquet J, Gaboyard-Niay S, Calin-Jageman I, Chidavaenzi RL, Venteo S, Desmadryl G, Goldberg JM, Lysakowski A, Chabbert C

PLoS ONE 2012;7(9):e46261

PMID: 23049999

Abstract

Glutamate is the neurotransmitter released from hair cells. Its clearance from the synaptic cleft can shape neurotransmission and prevent excitotoxicity. This may be particularly important in the inner ear and in other sensory organs where there is a continually high rate of neurotransmitter release. In the case of most cochlear and type II vestibular hair cells, clearance involves the diffusion of glutamate to supporting cells, where it is taken up by EAAT1 (GLAST), a glutamate transporter. A similar mechanism cannot work in vestibular type I hair cells as the presence of calyx endings separates supporting cells from hair-cell synapses. Because of this arrangement, it has been conjectured that a glutamate transporter must be present in the type I hair cell, the calyx ending, or both. Using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, we demonstrate that a glutamate-activated anion current, attributable to a high-affinity glutamate transporter and blocked by DL-TBOA, is expressed in type I, but not in type II hair cells. Molecular investigations reveal that EAAT4 and EAAT5, two glutamate transporters that could underlie the anion current, are expressed in both type I and type II hair cells and in calyx endings. EAAT4 has been thought to be expressed almost exclusively in the cerebellum and EAAT5 in the retina. Our results show that these two transporters have a wider distribution in mice. This is the first demonstration of the presence of transporters in hair cells and provides one of the few examples of EAATs in presynaptic elements.

Harmonin inhibits presynaptic Cav1.3 Ca²⁺ channels in mouse inner hair cells

Gregory FD, Bryan KE, Pangršič T, Calin-Jageman IE, Moser T, Lee A

Nat. Neurosci. 2011 Sep;14(9):1109-11

PMID: 21822269

Abstract

Harmonin is a scaffolding protein that is required for normal mechanosensory function in hair cells. We found a presynaptic association of harmonin and Ca(v)1.3 Ca(2+) channels at the mouse inner hair cell synapse, which limits channel availability through a ubiquitin-dependent pathway.

Molecular microdomains in a sensory terminal, the vestibular calyx ending

Lysakowski A, Gaboyard-Niay S, Calin-Jageman I, Chatlani S, Price SD, Eatock RA

J. Neurosci. 2011 Jul;31(27):10101-14

PMID: 21734302

Abstract

Many primary vestibular afferents form large cup-shaped postsynaptic terminals (calyces) that envelope the basolateral surfaces of type I hair cells. The calyceal terminals both respond to glutamate released from ribbon synapses in the type I cells and initiate spikes that propagate to the afferent’s central terminals in the brainstem. The combination of synaptic and spike initiation functions in these unique sensory endings distinguishes them from the axonal nodes of central neurons and peripheral nerves, such as the sciatic nerve, which have provided most of our information about nodal specializations. We show that rat vestibular calyces express an unusual mix of voltage-gated Na and K channels and scaffolding, cell adhesion, and extracellular matrix proteins, which may hold the ion channels in place. Protein expression patterns form several microdomains within the calyx membrane: a synaptic domain facing the hair cell, the heminode abutting the first myelinated internode, and one or two intermediate domains. Differences in the expression and localization of proteins between afferent types and zones may contribute to known variations in afferent physiology.

NeuronBank: A Tool for Cataloging Neuronal Circuitry

Katz PS, Calin-Jageman R, Dhawan A, Frederick C, Guo S, Dissanayaka R, Hiremath N, Ma W, Shen X, Wang HC, Yang H, Prasad S, Sunderraman R, Zhu Y

Front Syst Neurosci 2010;4:9

PMID: 20428500

Abstract

The basic unit of any nervous system is the neuron. Therefore, understanding the operation of nervous systems ultimately requires an inventory of their constituent neurons and synaptic connectivity, which form neural circuits. The presence of uniquely identifiable neurons or classes of neurons in many invertebrates has facilitated the construction of cellular-level connectivity diagrams that can be generalized across individuals within a species. Homologous neurons can also be recognized across species. Here we describe NeuronBank.org, a web-based tool that we are developing for cataloging, searching, and analyzing neuronal circuitry within and across species. Information from a single species is represented in an individual branch of NeuronBank. Users can search within a branch or perform queries across branches to look for similarities in neuronal circuits across species. The branches allow for an extensible ontology so that additional characteristics can be added as knowledge grows. Each entry in NeuronBank generates a unique accession ID, allowing it to be easily cited. There is also an automatic link to a Wiki page allowing an encyclopedic explanation of the entry. All of the 44 previously published neurons plus one previously unpublished neuron from the mollusc, Tritonia diomedea, have been entered into a branch of NeuronBank as have 4 previously published neurons from the mollusc, Melibe leonina. The ability to organize information about neuronal circuits will make this information more accessible, ultimately aiding research on these important models.

Ca(v)1 L-type Ca2+ channel signaling complexes in neurons

Calin-Jageman I, Lee A

J. Neurochem. 2008 May;105(3):573-83

PMID: 18266933

Abstract

Ca(v)1 L-type Ca2+ channels play crucial and diverse roles in the nervous system. The pre- and post-synaptic functions of Ca(v)1 channels not only depend on their intrinsic biophysical properties but also their dynamic regulation by a host of cellular influences. These include protein kinases and phosphatases, G-protein coupled receptors, scaffolding proteins, and Ca2+-binding proteins. The cytoplasmic domains of the main pore forming alpha(1) subunit of Ca(v)1 offer a number of binding sites for these modulators, permitting fast and localized regulation of Ca2+ entry. Through effects on Ca(v)1 gating, localization, and coupling to effectors, protein modulators are efficiently positioned to adjust Ca(v)1 Ca2+ signals that control neuronal excitability, synaptic plasticity, and gene expression.