Here we describe electrophysiological methods for measuring synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular junction of Drosophila larva. Evoked release is initiated artificially by stimulating the motor neuron axons, and transmission through the NMJ can be measured by the postsynaptic response evoked in the muscle.
Electrophysiological recordings from Drosophila embryos allow analyses of developing muscle and neuron electrical properties, as well as characterization of functional synaptogenesis at the glutamatergic neuromuscular junction and central cholinergic and GABAergic synapses.
The opener muscle of the crayfish leg is presented for its historical importance and experimental versatility in muscle phenotype, synaptic physiology and plasticity.
We described structural features of the Glia-neuromuscular synapses in a novel Inside-out tissue preparation of live fly larvae using fluorescent dyes with confocal microscopy. We labeled live neuron terminals with fluorescent primary antibodies to HRP, and also visualized the perisynaptic space with fluorescent Dextrans.
1Lehrstuhl für Biomolekulare Sensoren, Technische Universität München, 2Center for Integrated Protein Science (Munich) at the Institute of Neuroscience, Technische Universität München, 3TUM Institute for Advanced Study and German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases, Technische Universität München, 4Munich Cluster for Systems Neurology (SyNergy), Technische Universität München
Visualizing individual cells in densely packed tissues, such as terminal Schwann cells (SCs) at neuromuscular junctions (NMJs), is challenging. "Sequential photo-bleaching" allows delineating single terminal SCs, for instance in the triangularis sterni muscle explant, a convenient nerve-muscle preparation, where sequential bleaching can be combined with time-lapse imaging and post-hoc immunostainings.
This article demonstrates how to conduct electrophysiological recordings of synaptic responses on the extensor muscle in the walking leg of a crayfish and how the nerve terminals are visualized to show the gross morphological differences of high- and low-output nerve terminals.
The neuromuscular junction (NMJ) of Drosophila melanogaster is an important model system for studying normal synaptic function as well as perturbations to synaptic function found in certain neurological diseases. We present a protocol for dissection of the Drosophila larval motor system and immunostaining for active zone proteins within the NMJ.
Paired Nanoinjection and Electrophysiology Assay to Screen for Bioactivity of Compounds using the Drosophila melanogaster Giant Fiber System
A rapid in vivo assay to test for neuromodulatory compounds using the Giant Fiber System (GFS) of Drosophila melanogaster is described. Nanoinjections in the head of the animal along with electrophysiological recordings of the GFS can reveal bioactivity of compounds on neurons or muscles.
Subcutaneous Administration of Muscarinic Antagonists and Triple-Immunostaining of the Levator Auris Longus Muscle in Mice
1Biology Department, Arcadia University, 2Shriners Hospitals Pediatric Research Center, Temple University School of Medicine, 3Shriners Hospitals Pediatric Research Center and Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, Temple University School of Medicine
We describe procedures for repeated administration of inhibitors of muscarinic signaling to the levator auris longus (LAL) muscle of young adult mice and for subsequent immunostaining of its neuromuscular junctions (NMJs) in wholemounts. The LAL muscle has unique advantages for revealing in vivo pharmacological effects on NMJs.
Morphological Analysis of Drosophila Larval Peripheral Sensory Neuron Dendrites and Axons Using Genetic Mosaics
The dendritic arborization sensory neurons of the Drosophila larval peripheral nervous system are useful models to elucidate both general and neuron class-specific mechanisms of neuron differentiation. We present a practical guide to generate and analyze dendritic arborization neuron genetic mosaics.
This protocol describes a reliable method for anesthetization and imaging of intact Drosophila melanogaster larvae. We have utilized the volatile anesthetic desflurane to allow for repetitive imaging at sub-cellular resolution and re-identification of structures for up to a few days1.
This protocol demonstrates how to perform immunohistochemistry on dissected Drosophila larva.
This protocol demonstrates how to dissect Drosophila larvae in preparation for immunohistochemistry and/or imaging of the neuromuscular junction.
Application of electrophysiology to accessible synapses provides a quantifiable measure of synaptic activity, useful in analyzing synaptic mutants. This article describes a dissection method used to expose the neuromuscular junctions (NMJ) of Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) and briefly discusses some of the uses to which this preparation can be applied.
FM dyes have been of invaluable help in the understanding of synaptic dynamics. FMs are normally followed under the fluorescent microscope during different stimulation conditions. However, photoconversion of FM dyes combined with electron microscopy allows the visualization of distinct synaptic vesicle pools, among other ultrastructure components, in synaptic boutons.
This protocol details how to quantify synapse number both in dissociated neuronal culture and in brain sections using immunocytochemistry. Using compartment-specific antibodies, we label presynaptic terminals as well as sites of postsynaptic specialization. We define synapses as points of colocalization between the signals generated by these markers.
1Department of Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, 2Department of Anatomy, Washington University School of Medicine, 3Department of Neurobiology, Washington University School of Medicine
Glutamatergic synapses can switch from an active mode to a silent mode. We demonstrate that presynaptic activity status in dissociated culture of rodent neurons is visualized using a fixable form of the FM1-43 dye to visualize active synapses and immunostaining with vGluT-1 antibody to visualize all glutamate synapses.
The localization and distribution of proteins provide important information for understanding their cellular functions. The superior spatial resolution of electron microscopy (EM) can be used to determine the subcellular localization of a given antigen following immunohistochemistry. For tissues of the central nervous system (CNS), preserving structural integrity while maintaining antigenicity has been especially difficult in EM studies. Here, we adopt a procedure that has been used to preserve structures and antigens in the CNS to study and characterize synaptic proteins in rat hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons.
1Marine Science Center, Northeastern University, 2Fachrichtung Bionik, Bremen University of Applied Sciences
An approach to neural network modeling on the LEGO Mindstorms robotics platform is presented. The method provides a simulation tool for invertebrate neuroscience research in both the research lab and the classroom. This technique enables the investigation of biomimetic robot control principles.
The abundance of neurotransmitter receptors clustered at synapses strongly influences synaptic strength. This method quantifies fluorescently-labeled neurotransmitter receptors in three dimensions with single-synapse resolution in C. elegans, allowing hundreds of synapses to be rapidly characterized within a single sample without distortions introduced by z-plane projection.
Visualizing Cell-to-cell Transfer of HIV using Fluorescent Clones of HIV and Live Confocal Microscopy
1Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Immunology Institute, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 2NSF Center for Biophotonics, University of California, Davis, 3Structural and Computational Biology Unit, European Molecular Biology Laboratory
This visualized experiment is a guide for utilizing a fluorescent molecular clone of HIV for live confocal imaging experiments.
The Giant Fiber System is a simple neuronal circuit of adult Drosophila melanogaster containing the largest neurons in the fly. We describe the protocol for monitoring synaptic transmission through this pathway by recording post synaptic potentials in dorsal longitudinal (DLM) and tergotrochanteral (TTM) muscles following direct stimulation of the Giant Fiber interneurons.
This video demonstrates the preparation of primary neuronal cultures from the brains of late stage Drosophila pupae. Views of live cultures show neurite outgrowth and imaging of calcium levels using Fura-2.
Here we describe a basic protocol for fluorescent labeling of different elements of heart tubes from larva and adult Drosophila melanogaster. These specimens are well-suited for imaging via fluorescent or confocal microscopy. This technique permits detailed structural analysis of the features of the hearts from a powerful model organism.
Postsynaptic Recordings at Afferent Dendrites Contacting Cochlear Inner Hair Cells: Monitoring Multivesicular Release at a Ribbon Synapse
1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery., The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, 2Instituto de Investigaciones en Ingeniería Genética y Biología Molecular, Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas
Whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from auditory nerve fiber dendrites at the inner hair cell ribbon synapse in the mammalian cochlea.
1Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 2Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, The Ohio State University, 3Center for Computational and Integrative Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 4Dept. of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Vanderbilt University
A method is described to individually select, manipulate, and image live pathogens using an optical trap coupled to a spinning disk microscope. The optical trap provides spatial and temporal control of organisms and places them adjacent to host cells. Fluorescence microscopy captures dynamic intercellular interactions with minimal perturbation to cells.
Reproducible Mouse Sciatic Nerve Crush and Subsequent Assessment of Regeneration by Whole Mount Muscle Analysis
In this report we describe a method to crush mouse sciatic nerve. This method uses readily available hemostatic forceps and easily and reproducibly produces complete sciatic nerve crush. In addition, we describe a method to prepare muscle whole mounts suitable for analysis of nerve regeneration after sciatic nerve crush.
Preparation of Oligomeric β-amyloid1-42 and Induction of Synaptic Plasticity Impairment on Hippocampal Slices
One feature of Alzheimer's Disease is the elevation of Aβ1-42 peptide. Here we provide a protocol for preparing synthetic Aβ1-42 oligomers, which impairs hippocampal Long-Term Potentiation, a cellular correlate of memory. This procedure is useful for investigating mechanisms of Aβ-induced pathology and drug screening.
The ability to measure the kinetics of vesicle release can help provide insight into some of the basics of neurotransmission. Here we used real-time imaging of vesicles labeled with the red fluorescent dye FM 4-64 to measure the rate of presynaptic vesicle release in hippocampal neuronal cultures.
Cultured muscle cells are an inadequate model to recapitulate innervated muscle in vivo. A functional motor unit can be reproduced in vitro by innervation of differentiated human primary muscle cells using rat embryo spinal cord explants. This article describes how co-cultures of spinal cord explants and muscle cells are established.
1Dept. of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California, Los Angeles, 2Dept. of Biological Chemistry, University of California, Los Angeles, 3Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles
Primary cultures of Aplysia sensory-motor neurons provide a model preparation for studying synapse formation and synaptic plasticity in vitro. This video demonstrates the identification and microdissection of sensory and motor neurons from Aplysia ganglia as well as the methods for establishing and maintaining sensory-motor neurons in culture.
Astrocytes have been recognized to be versatile cells participating in fundamental biological processes that are essential for normal brain development and function, and central nervous system repair. Here we present a rapid procedure to obtain pure mouse astrocyte cultures to study the biology of this major class of central nervous system cells.
Optogenetic techniques have made it possible to study the contribution of specific neurons to behavior. We describe a method in larval zebrafish for activating single somatosensory neurons expressing a channelrhodopsin variant (ChEF) with a diode-pumped solid state (DPSS) laser and recording the elicited behaviors with a high-speed video camera.
We present various ways to monitor heart function in the larva of Drosophila for assessing questions dealing with the function of gap junctions, ion channel mutations, modulation of pacemaker activity and pharmacological studies.
This procedure uses a blue light-activated algal channel and cell-specific genetic expression tools to evoke synaptic potentials with light pulses at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) in Drosophila larvae. This technique is an inexpensive and easy-to-use alternative to suction electrode stimulation for synaptic physiology studies in research and teaching laboratories.
Dual Electrophysiological Recordings of Synaptically-evoked Astroglial and Neuronal Responses in Acute Hippocampal Slices
The preparation of acute brain slices from isolated hippocampi, as well as the simultaneous electrophysiological recordings of astrocytes and neurons in stratum radiatum during stimulation of schaffer collaterals is described. The pharmacological isolation of astroglial potassium and glutamate transporter currents is demonstrated.
Supported planar bilayers are powerful tools that can be used to model the molecular interactions in an immunological synapse. Here, we show methods for anchoring cell adhesion proteins known to modulate synapse formation to the upper leaflet of the lipid bilyer and visualize synapse formation using TIRF microscopy.
Simultaneous Pre- and Post-synaptic Electrophysiological Recording from Xenopus Nerve-muscle Co-cultures
This video demonstrates the procedures used to grow primary cultures of embryonic Xenopus nerve and muscle cells and the usefulness of this preparation for making simultaneous pre- and post-synaptic patch clamp recordings.
1Department of Pathology, New York University Langone School of Medicine, 2Program in Molecular Pathogenesis, Marty and Helen Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine and Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine, 3Laboratory of Molecular Immunogenetics, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, 4Veteran Affairs New York Harbor Healthcare System
This article describes a method to visualize formation of an HIV-1 envelope-induced virological synapse on glass supported planar bilayers by total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy. The method can also be combined with immunofluorescence staining to detect activation and redistribution of signaling molecules that occur during HIV-1 envelope-induced virological synapse formation.
This technique exposes the Drosophila embryonic neuromusculature for immunohistochemistry or electrophysiological recording. It is useful for studying early events in neuromuscular development or performing electrophysiology in mutants that cannot hatch.
Microarray analysis was conducted to determine genetic expression profiles in C. elegans, and real-time PCR was used to validate and quantify microarray data.
Immunohistological Labeling of Microtubules in Sensory Neuron Dendrites, Tracheae, and Muscles in the Drosophila Larva Body Wall
To understand how complex cell shapes, such as neuronal dendrites, are achieved during development, it is important to be able to accurately assay microtubule organization. Here we describe a robust immunohistological labeling method to examine microtubule organization of dendritic arborization neuron sensory dendrites, trachea, muscle, and other Drosophila larva body wall tissues.
1Centre of Excellence in Neuromics, CHUM Research Center and the Department of Medicine, Universite de Montreal, 2Center of Excellence in Neuromics, CHU Sainte Justine and CHUM Notre-Dame Research Centers, Universite de Montreal, 3Department of Medicine, Universite de Montreal
Molecular genetic strategy for finding de novo mutations causing common disorders such as autism and schizophrenia.
Larval zebrafish represent the first vertebrate model system to allow simultaneous patch clamp recording from a spinal motor-neuron and target skeletal muscle. This video demonstrates the microscopic methods used to identify a segmental CaP motor-neuron and target muscle cells as well as the methodologies for recording from each cell type.
Quantitative Analysis of Synaptic Vesicle Pool Replenishment in Cultured Cerebellar Granule Neurons using FM Dyes
A live fluorescence imaging technique to quantify the replenishment and mobilisation of specific synaptic vesicle (SV) pools in central nerve terminals is described. Two rounds of SV recycling are monitored in the same nerve terminals providing an internal control.
A protocols for an embryonic rat brain aggregate culture system is described. Multipotent progenitors in the aggregates can develop and differentiate into neurons, astrocytes and oligodendrocytes.
1Departments of Pathology and Cell Biology, and Neuroscience, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, 2Department of Ophthalmology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
Here we present two techniques for manipulating gene expression in murine retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) by in utero and ex vivo electroporation. These techniques enable one to examine how alterations in gene expression affect RGC development, axon guidance, and functional properties.
1Section on Neuronal Structure, Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience, NIAAA, NIH, 2Department Physiology and Pharmacology, Wake Forest University Health Sciences, 3Oregon National Primate Research Center, Division of Neuroscience, Oregon Health and Science University
We demonstrate the use of the gene gun to introduce fluorescent dyes, such as DiI, into neurons in brain slices from rodents and non-human primates of different ages. In this particular case, we use adult mice (3-6 months old) and adult cynomologus monkeys (9-15 years old). This technique, originally described by the laboratory of Dr. Lichtman (Gan et al., 2000), is well suited for the study of dendritic branching and dendritic spine morphology and can be combined with traditional immunostaining, if detergents are kept at a low concentration.
Membrane Potentials, Synaptic Responses, Neuronal Circuitry, Neuromodulation and Muscle Histology Using the Crayfish: Student Laboratory Exercises
The experiments demonstrate an easy approach for students to gain experience in examining muscle structure, synaptic responses, the effects of ion gradients and permeability on membrane potentials. Also, a sensory-CNS-motor-muscle circuit is presented to show a means to test effects of compounds on a neuronal circuit.
Here we describe a protocol for the preparation of agar-embedded retinal slices that are suitable for electrophysiology and Ca2+ imaging. This method allows one to study ribbon-type synapses in retinal microcircuits using direct patch-clamp recordings of single presynaptic nerve terminals.