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.
The opener muscle of the crayfish leg is presented for its historical importance and experimental versatility in muscle phenotype, synaptic physiology and plasticity.
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.
We describe a method to prepare organotypic hippocampal slices that can be easily adapted to other brain regions. Brain slices are laid on porous membranes and culture media is allowed to form an interface. This method preserves the gross architecture of the hippocampus for up to 2 weeks in culture.
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.
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.
Vibrodissociation of Neurons from Rodent Brain Slices to Study Synaptic Transmission and Image Presynaptic Terminals
1Section on Synaptic Pharmacology/Laboratory for Integrative Neuroscience, National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2Department of Electronics Engineering, Ewha Womans University, 3Section on Transmitter Signaling/Laboratory of Molecular Physiology, National Institutes of Health/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
This report demonstrates a technique for mechanical isolation of individual viable neurons retaining attached presynaptic boutons. Vibrodissociated neurons have the advantages of rapid production, excellent pharmacological control and improved space-clamp without influence from neighboring cells. This method can be used for imaging of synaptic elements and patch-clamp recording.
Preparation of Acute Hippocampal Slices from Rats and Transgenic Mice for the Study of Synaptic Alterations during Aging and Amyloid Pathology
1Graduate Center for Gerontology, University of Kentucky College of Public Health, 2Department of Molecular and Biomedical Pharmacology, University of Kentucky College of Medicine, 3Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, University of Kentucky College of Medicine
This article outlines procedures for preparing hippocampal slices from rats and transgenic mice for the study of synaptic alterations associated with brain aging and age-related neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease.
Preparation of Synaptoneurosomes from Mouse Cortex using a Discontinuous Percoll-Sucrose Density Gradient
1Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Waisman Center for Developmental Disabilities, University of Wisconsin, 2Department of Biochemistry, Waisman Center for Developmental Disabilities, University of Wisconsin
A method to prepare translationally active, intact synaptoneurosomes (SNs) from mouse brain cortex is described. The method uses a discontinuous Percoll-sucrose density gradient allowing for the quick preparation of active SNs.
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.
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.
A technique is described to quantify the in vivo physiological response of mammalian neurons during movement and correlate the physiology of the neuron with neuronal morphology, neurochemical phenotype and synaptic microcircuitry.
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.
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.
German biophysicist Erwin Neher shared the 1991 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Bert Sakmann for their pioneering work measuring the activity of single ion channels in cells.
Optical Recording of Electrical Activity in Guinea-pig Enteric Networks using Voltage-sensitive Dyes
This protocol illustrates how voltage-sensitive dyes enable optical recording of electrical activity from intact neural networks such as the plexuses of the guinea-pig enteric nervous system, with an adjustable resolution that ranges from single-cells to multi-ganglionic circuitry.
Implementing Dynamic Clamp with Synaptic and Artificial Conductances in Mouse Retinal Ganglion Cells
1Discipline of Biomedical Science, School of Medical Sciences, Sydney Medical School and Bosch Institute, University of Sydney, 2The MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney, 3Discipline of Physiology, School of Medical Sciences, Sydney Medical School and Bosch Institute, University of Sydney
This video article illustrates the set-up, the procedures to patch cell bodies and how to implement dynamic clamp recordings from ganglion cells in whole-mount mouse retinae. This technique allows the investigation of the precise contribution of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs, and their relative magnitude and timing to neuronal spiking.
1Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center, University of Washington, 2Department of Physiology and Biophysics, Virginia Merrill Bloedel Hearing Research Center, University of Washington
The chicken auditory brainstem is comprised of nuclei responsible for binaural sound processing. A single coronal slice preparation maintains the entire circuitry while the cultured approach provides a unique preparation to study the development of neuronal structure and auditory function at the molecular, cellular and network levels.
The endplate potential (EPP) component can be extracted from the surface EMG using a digital filter. The extracted EPP shows oscillation with a frequency of about 30 Hz.
The primary purpose of this experiment is to understand how primary sensory neurons convey information of joint movements and positions as proprioceptive information for an animal. An additional objective of this report is present the anatomy of the preparation by dissection and viewing of neurons under a dissecting microscope.
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 article describes an electrophysiological method for isolating chemical stimulation to individual sensilla via extracellular, tip-recordings under mineral oil.
Imaging Analysis of Neuron to Glia Interaction in Microfluidic Culture Platform (MCP)-based Neuronal Axon and Glia Co-culture System
This study describes the procedures of setting up a novel neuronal axon and (astro)glia co-culture platform. In this co-culture system, manipulation of direct interaction between a single axon (and single glial cell) becomes feasible, allowing mechanistic analysis of the mutual neuron to glial signaling.
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.
This video demonstrates the procedure for isolating whole brains from adult Drosophila in preparation for recording from single neurons using standard whole cell technology. It includes images of GFP labeled cells and neurons viewed during recording.
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.
Behavioural Pharmacology in Classical Conditioning of the Proboscis Extension Response in Honeybees (Apis mellifera)
We demonstrate how to implement a behavioral pharmacology method in an appetitive olfactory conditioning paradigm in honeybees (Apis mellifera) by systemic application of drugs. This method allows investigation of the mechanisms underlying learning and memory formation in a simple and reliable way.
Here we describe a microdissection technique followed by fluorescent dye injection into the acoustic ganglion of early chick embryos for selective tracing of auditory axon fibers in the nerve and hindbrain.
In this report we demonstrate techniques that can be used to investigate the biology of the crayfish hindgut. We show how to dissect a crayfish abdomen and study the associated anatomy, physiology and modulation of activity. The peristaltic activity and strength of contractions are measured using a force transducer.
1Julius L. Chambers Biomedical/Biotechnology Research Institute, North Carolina Central University, Durham, 2Department of Biology, North Carolina Central University, Durham, 3Department of Physiology & Pharmacology and Hypertension & Vascular Research Center, Wake Forest University School of Medicine
An automated myography method for force measurements in isolated mesenteric arteries is described. It employs a Mulvany-Halpern Auto Dual Wire Myograph 510A to determine responses to phenylephrine and extracellular calcium. The method allows consistent determination of isometric responses to agonists in small vessels of diameters of 60 - 300 μm, independently.
The Morris water maze is a well-accepted tool used to document the involvement of the hippocampus in a behavioral task.
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.
Performing Vaginal Lavage, Crystal Violet Staining, and Vaginal Cytological Evaluation for Mouse Estrous Cycle Staging Identification
1Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Neural Regeneration Laboratory and Ottawa Institute of Systems Biology, 2Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of Ottawa, 3CIHR Program in Neurodegenerative Lipidomics, University of Ottawa, 4Carleton Immersive Media Studio, Azrieli School of Architecture and Urbanism
Here, we describe how to identify the stage of the murine reproductive (proestrus, estrus, metestrus, or diestrus) by simple, non-invasive collection and cytological assessment of vaginal smear samples. We further describe how vaginal cytology reflects circulating hormonal levels underlying transition through the murine reproductive cycle.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is a non-invasive tool to gain insight on the physiology and function of the human nervous system. Here, we present our TMS techniques to study cortical excitability of the upper limb and lumbar musculature.
Spectral Confocal Imaging of Fluorescently tagged Nicotinic Receptors in Knock-in Mice with Chronic Nicotine Administration
We have developed a novel technique of quantifying nicotinic acetylcholine receptor changes within subcellular regions of specific subtypes of CNS neurons to better understand the mechanisms of nicotine addiction by using a combination of approaches including fluorescent protein tagging of the receptor using the knock-in approach and spectral confocal imaging.
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 Biological Sciences and Institute for Neuroscience, George Washington University, 2Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 3Department of Cell and Tissue Biology, University of California San Francisco
Here we describe a molecular readout of long-term olfactory adaptation in Caenorhabditis elegans. The Protein Kinase G, EGL-4, is necessary for stable adaptation responses in the primary sensory neuron pair called AWC. During prolonged odor exposure EGL-4 translocates from the cytosol to nucleus of the AWC.
We developed and validated a small-footprint array of miniature chemostats built from readily available parts for low cost. Physiological and experimental evolution results were similar to larger volume chemostats. The ministat array provides a compact, inexpensive, and accessible platform for traditional chemostat experiments, functional genomics, and chemical screening applications.
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.
This video demonstrates how to employ two neural stimulants, aldicarb and pentylenetetrazole (PTZ), in complementary ways to study synaptic function in the nematode, C. elegans. This complementary approach may also be used to shed light on evolutionarily conserved mechanisms for modulating neuronal synchrony and has implications for epilepsy and seizures.
1Division of Neurology, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, 2Neuroscience Graduate Group, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 3Department of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
A multi-faceted approach to investigating functional changes to hippocampal circuitry is explained. Electrophysiological techniques are described along with the injury protocol, behavioral testing and regional dissection method. The combination of these techniques can be applied in similar fashion for other brain regions and scientific questions.
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.
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.
Numerous recent studies have identified mutations in synaptic proteins associated with brain pathologies. Primary cultured cortical neurons offer great flexibility in examining the effects of these disease-associated proteins on dendritic spine morphology and motility.
1Departments of Neurology, Columbia University, 2Departments of Psychiatry and Pharmacology, Columbia University, 3Department of Chemistry, Columbia University, 4eMolecules, Inc., 5Departments of Neurology and Physiology, University of California School of Medicine, San Francisco, 6Division of Molecular Therapeutics, New York Psychiatric Institute
A new means to measure neurotransmission optically using fluorescent dopamine analogs.
This paper introduces an approach of combining laser scanning photostimulation with whole cell recordings in transgenic mice expressing GFP in limited inhibitory neuron populations. The technique allows for extensive mapping and quantitative analysis of local synaptic circuits of specific inhibitory cortical neurons.
In this video, we demonstrate how to label and visualize single synaptic vesicle exocytosis and trafficking in goldfish retinal bipolar cells using total internal reflectance fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy.
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.
This protocol demonstrates how to perform immunohistochemistry on dissected Drosophila larva.
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.