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.
The opener muscle of the crayfish leg is presented for its historical importance and experimental versatility in muscle phenotype, synaptic physiology and plasticity.
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.
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.
This video demonstrates the preparation of primary neuronal cultures from midgastrula stage Drosophila embryos. Views of live cultures show cells 1 hour after plating and differentiated neurons after 2 days of growth in a bicarbonate-based defined medium. The neurons are electrically excitable and form synaptic connections.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Monitoring Changes in the Intracellular Calcium Concentration and Synaptic Efficacy in the Mollusc Aplysia
1Fishberg Department of Neuroscience and Friedman Brain Institute, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, 2Phase Five Communications Inc.
We demonstrate how changes in the intracellular free calcium concentration and synaptic efficacy can be simultaneously monitored in a ganglion preparation of Aplysia. We image intracellular calcium using a fluorescent dye, Calcium Orange, and induce and monitor synaptic transmission with sharp (intracellular) electrodes.
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.
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.
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.
We describe a rapid methodology to isolate and culture hippocampal and cortical neurons from rodent embryos. This protocol allows us to perform experiments in which nearly pure neuronal cultures are required.
Osmotic Avoidance in Caenorhabditis elegans: Synaptic Function of Two Genes, Orthologues of Human NRXN1 and NLGN1, as Candidates for Autism
Neurexins and neuroligins are membrane-neuron adhesion proteins which perform essential roles in synaptic differentiation and transmission. Neuroligin deficient mutants of C. elegans are defective in detecting osmotic strength, but when they also contain a mutation in the gene coding neurexin, they recover the wild type phenotype.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
An in vivo dissection of the adult Drosophila ventral nerve cord (VNC) is demonstrated. This particular dissection method causes little damage to the VNC allowing the subsequent labeling of the giant fiber neurons with fluorescent dye for high resolution imaging.
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.
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.
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.
Cut-loading: A Useful Tool for Examining the Extent of Gap Junction Tracer Coupling Between Retinal Neurons
An easy and convenient method to determine the extent of gap junction tracer coupling between retinal neurons is described. This technique enables one to investigate the function of the electrical synapses between neurons in the intact retina under different illumination conditions and at different times of the day and night.
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.
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.
The amperometric technique measures dopamine release from a single cell by detecting the oxidative current produced by spontaneous dopamine oxidization. Simultaneous voltage clamp and amperometry methodology reveal the mechanistic relationship between the overall "activity" of dopamine transporter and the regulatory role of this activity on the reverse transport of dopamine.
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.
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.
1Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 2Scholars Academy/MARC Scholar, University of Houston-Downtown, 3Genes and Development Graduate Program, University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, 4Neuroscience Graduate Program, University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
In this article, we demonstrate assays to study thermal nociception in Drosophila larvae. One assay involves spatially-restricted (local) stimulation of thermal nociceptors1,2 while the second involves a wholesale (global) activation of most or all such neurons3. Together, these techniques allow visualization and quantification of the behavioral functions of Drosophila nociceptive sensory neurons.
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.
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.
We describe a relatively simple method of transretinal electroretinogram (ERG) recordings for obtaining rod and cone photoresponses from intact mouse retina. This approach takes advantage of the block of synaptic transmission from photoreceptors to isolate their light responses and record them using field electrodes placed across the isolated flat-mounted retina.
By tagging the extracellular domains of membrane receptors with superecliptic pHluorin, and by imaging these fusion receptors in cultured mouse neurons, we can directly visualize individual vesicular insertion events of the receptors to the plasma membrane. This technique will be instrumental in elucidating the molecular mechanisms governing receptor insertion to the plasma membrane.
We describe an established technique to measure and analyze odor-evoked calcium responses in the antennal lobe of living Drosophila melanogaster.
A simple microfluidic device has been developed to perform anesthetic free in vivo imaging of C. elegans, intact Drosophila larvae and zebrafish larvae. The device utilizes a deformable PDMS membrane to immobilize these model organisms in order to perform time lapse imaging of numerous processes such as heart beat, cell division and sub-cellular neuronal transport. We demonstrate the use of this device and show examples of different types of data collected from different model systems.
1Department of Physiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, 2Department of Anesthesiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, 3Department of Anesthesiology, Medicine and Physiology, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles
We describe a simple protocol to identify brain proteins that bind to the full length C terminus of ATP-gated P2X2 receptors. The extension and systematic application of this approach to all P2X receptors is expected to lead to a better understanding of P2X receptor signaling.
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.
Evaluation of colonic motility in the guinea pig distal colon with the Gastrointestinal Motility Monitor (GIMM) is a straightforward and simple to learn approach to quantitatively evaluate propulsive motility in the gastrointestinal tract.
Vacuolar and cytosolic pH can be measured in live yeast (S. cerevisiae) cells using ratiometric fluorescent dyes localized to specific cellular compartments. We describe procedures for measuring vacuolar pH with BCECF-AM, which localizes to the vacuole in yeast, and cytosolic pH with a cytosolic ratiometric pH-sensitive GFP (yeast pHluorin).
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.
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.
Microiontophoresis and Micromanipulation for Intravital Fluorescence Imaging of the Microcirculation
Microiontophoresis entails movement of ions from a micropipette in response to a difference in electrical potential between the inside and outside of the micropipette. Biologically active molecules are thereby delivered in proportion to electrical current. We illustrate acetylcholine microiontophoresis in conjunction with micromanipulation to study endothelium-dependent vasodilation in the microcirculation.
Drosophila larvae are able to associate odor stimuli with gustatory reward. Here we describe a simple behavioral paradigm that allows the analysis of appetitive associative olfactory learning.
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.
Here we describe a procedure for generating dark-adapted slices of the mouse retina for electrophysiological recordings.
Modeling Biological Membranes with Circuit Boards and Measuring Electrical Signals in Axons: Student Laboratory Exercises
This is a demonstration of how biological membranes can be understood using electrical models. We also demonstrate procedures for recording action potentials from the ventral nerve cord of the crayfish for student orientated laboratories.