In neural interface platforms, cultures are often carried out on a flat, open, rigid, and opaque substrate, posing challenges to reflecting the native microenvironment of the brain and precise engagement with neurons. Here we present a neuron cell culturing platform that consists of arrays of ordered microtubes (2.7-4.4 ?m in diameter), formed by strain-induced self-rolled-up nanomembrane (s-RUM) technology using ultrathin (<40 nm) silicon nitride (SiNx) film on transparent substrates. These microtubes demonstrated robust physical confinement and unprecedented guidance effect toward outgrowth of primary cortical neurons, with a coaxially confined configuration resembling that of myelin sheaths. The dynamic neural growth inside the microtube, evaluated with continuous live-cell imaging, showed a marked increase (20×) of the growth rate inside the microtube compared to regions outside the microtubes. We attribute the dramatic accelerating effect and precise guiding of the microtube array to three-dimensional (3D) adhesion and electrostatic interaction with the SiNx microtubes, respectively. This work has clear implications toward building intelligent synthetic neural circuits by arranging the size, site, and patterns of the microtube array, for potential treatment of neurological disorders.
The emergent self-organization of a neuronal network in a developing nervous system is the result of a remarkably orchestrated process involving a multitude of chemical, mechanical and electrical signals. Little is known about the dynamic behavior of a developing network (especially in a human model) primarily due to a lack of practical and non-invasive methods to measure and quantify the process. Here we demonstrate that by using a novel optical interferometric technique, we can non-invasively measure several fundamental properties of neural networks from the sub-cellular to the cell population level. We applied this method to quantify network formation in human stem cell derived neurons and show for the first time, correlations between trends in the growth, transport, and spatial organization of such a system. Quantifying the fundamental behavior of such cell lines without compromising their viability may provide an important new tool in future longitudinal studies.
Brain plasticity, the ability of the nervous system to encode experience, is a modulatory process leading to long-lasting structural and functional changes. Salient experiences induce plastic changes in neurons of the hippocampus, the basis of memory formation and recall. In the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the central circadian (~24-h) clock, experience with light at night induces changes in neuronal state, leading to circadian plasticity. The SCN's endogenous ~24-h time-generator comprises a dynamic series of functional states, which gate plastic responses. This restricts light-induced alteration in SCN state-dynamics and outputs to the nighttime. Endogenously generated circadian oscillators coordinate the cyclic states of excitability and intracellular signaling molecules that prime SCN receptivity to plasticity signals, generating nightly windows of susceptibility. We propose that this constitutes a paradigm of ~24-h iterative metaplasticity, the repeated, patterned occurrence of susceptibility to induction of neuronal plasticity. We detail effectors permissive for the cyclic susceptibility to plasticity. We consider similarities of intracellular and membrane mechanisms underlying plasticity in SCN circadian plasticity and in hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP). The emerging prominence of the hippocampal circadian clock points to iterative metaplasticity in that tissue as well. Exploring these links holds great promise for understanding circadian shaping of synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory.
Mammalian circadian rhythm is maintained by the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) via an intricate set of neuropeptides and other signaling molecules. In this work, peptidomic analyses from two times of day were examined to characterize variation in SCN peptides using three different label-free quantitation approaches: spectral count, spectra index and SIEVE. Of the 448 identified peptides, 207 peptides were analyzed by two label-free methods, spectral count and spectral index. There were 24 peptides with significant (adjusted p-value < 0.01) differential peptide abundances between daytime and nighttime, including multiple peptides derived from secretogranin II, cocaine and amphetamine regulated transcript, and proprotein convertase subtilisin/kexin type 1 inhibitor. Interestingly, more peptides were analyzable and had significantly different abundances between the two time points using the spectral count and spectral index methods than with a prior analysis using the SIEVE method with the same data. The results of this study reveal the importance of using the appropriate data analysis approaches for label-free relative quantitation of peptides. The detection of significant changes in so rich a set of neuropeptides reflects the dynamic nature of the SCN and the number of influences such as feeding behavior on circadian rhythm. Using spectral count and spectral index, peptide level changes are correlated to time of day, suggesting their key role in circadian function.
In mammals the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the master circadian clock, is sensitive to light input via the optic chiasm and synchronizes many daily biological rhythms. Here we explore variations in the expression levels of neuropeptides present in the SCN of rats using a label-free quantification approach that is based on integrating peak intensities between daytime, Zeitgeber time (ZT) 6, and nighttime, ZT 18. From nine analyses comparing the levels between these two time points, 10 endogenous peptides derived from eight prohormones exhibited significant differences in their expression levels (adjusted p-value <0.05). Of these, seven peptides derived from six prohormones, including GRP, PACAP, and CART, exhibited ? 30% increases at ZT 18, and the VGRPEWWMDYQ peptide derived from proenkephalin A showed a >50% increase at nighttime. Several endogenous peptides showing statistically significant changes in this study have not been previously reported to alter their levels as a function of time of day, nor have they been implicated in prior functional SCN studies. This information on peptide expression changes serves as a resource for discovering unknown peptide regulators that affect circadian rhythms in the SCN.
Sleep-wake cycling is controlled by the complex interplay between two brain systems, one which controls vigilance state, regulating the transition between sleep and wake, and the other circadian, which communicates time-of-day. Together, they align sleep appropriately with energetic need and the day-night cycle. Neural circuits connect brain stem sites that regulate vigilance state with the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), the master circadian clock, but the function of these connections has been unknown. Coupling discrete stimulation of pontine nuclei controlling vigilance state with analytical chemical measurements of intra-SCN microdialysates in mouse, we found significant neurotransmitter release at the SCN and, concomitantly, resetting of behavioral circadian rhythms. Depending upon stimulus conditions and time-of-day, SCN acetylcholine and/or glutamate levels were augmented and generated shifts of behavioral rhythms. These results establish modes of neurochemical communication from brain regions controlling vigilance state to the central circadian clock, with behavioral consequences. They suggest a basis for dynamic integration across brain systems that regulate vigilance states, and a potential vulnerability to altered communication in sleep disorders.
We used quantitative phase imaging to measure the dispersion relation, i.e. decay rate vs. spatial mode, associated with mass transport in live cells. This approach applies equally well to both discrete and continuous mass distributions without the need for particle tracking. From the quadratic experimental curve specific to diffusion, we extracted the diffusion coefficient as the only fitting parameter. The linear portion of the dispersion relation reveals the deterministic component of the intracellular transport. Our data show a universal behavior where the intracellular transport is diffusive at small scales and deterministic at large scales. Measurements by our method and particle tracking show that, on average, the mass transport in the nucleus is slower than in the cytoplasm.
We present spatial light interference tomography (SLIT), a label-free method for 3D imaging of transparent structures such as live cells. SLIT uses the principle of interferometric imaging with broadband fields and combines the optical gating due to the micron-scale coherence length with that of the high numerical aperture objective lens. Measuring the phase shift map associated with the object as it is translated through focus provides full information about the 3D distribution associated with the refractive index. Using a reconstruction algorithm based on the Born approximation, we show that the sample structure may be recovered via a 3D, complex field deconvolution. We illustrate the method with reconstructed tomographic refractive index distributions of microspheres, photonic crystals, and unstained living cells.
We studied the active transport of intracellular components along neuron processes using a new method developed in our laboratory: dispersion-relation phase spectroscopy. This method is able to quantitatively map spatially the heterogeneous dynamics of the concentration field of the cargos at submicron resolution without the need for tracking individual components. The results in terms of density correlation function reveal that the decay rate is linear in wavenumber, which is consistent with a narrow Lorentzian distribution of cargo velocity.
Three-dimensional (3D) microperiodic scaffolds of poly(2-hydroxyethyl methacrylate) (pHEMA) have been fabricated by direct-write assembly of a photopolymerizable hydrogel ink. The ink is initially composed of physically entangled pHEMA chains dissolved in a solution of HEMA monomer, comonomer, photoinitiator and water. Upon printing 3D scaffolds of varying architecture, the ink filaments are exposed to UV light, where they are transformed into an interpenetrating hydrogel network of chemically cross-linked and physically entangled pHEMA chains. These 3D microperiodic scaffolds are rendered growth compliant for primary rat hippocampal neurons by absorption of polylysine. Neuronal cells thrive on these scaffolds, forming differentiated, intricately branched networks. Confocal laser scanning microscopy reveals that both cell distribution and extent of neuronal process alignment depend upon scaffold architecture. This work provides an important step forward in the creation of suitable platforms for in vitro study of sensitive cell types.
We show that applying the Laplace operator to a speckle-free quantitative phase image reveals an unprecedented level of detail in cell structure, without the gradient artifacts associated with differential interference contrast microscopy, or photobleaching and phototoxicity limitations common in fluorescence microscopy. This method, referred to as Laplace phase microscopy, is an efficient tool for tracking vesicles and organelles in living cells. The principle is demonstrated by tracking organelles in cardiomyocytes and vesicles in neurites of hippocampal neurons, which to our knowledge are the first label-free diffusion measurements of the organelles in such cells.
The chemical complexity of cell-to-cell communication has emerged as a fundamental challenge to understanding brain systems. This is certainly true for the hypothalamus, where neuropeptide signals are heterogeneous, localized and dynamic. Thus far, most hypothalamic peptidomic studies have centered on the entire structure; however, recent advances in collection strategies and analytical technologies have enabled direct, high-resolution peptidomic profiles focused on two regions of interest, the suprachiasmatic and supraoptic nuclei, including their sub-regions and individual cells. Suites of peptides now can be identified and probed for function. High spatial and analytical sensitivities reveal that discrete hypothalamic nuclei have distinct peptidomic signatures. Peptidomic discovery not only reveals unanticipated complexity, but also peptides previously unknown that act as key circuit components. Analysis of tissue releasates identifies peptides secreted into the extracellular environment and available for transmitting intercellular signals. Direct sampling techniques define peptide-releasate profiles in spatial, temporal and event-dependent patterns. These approaches are providing remarkable new insights into the complexity of neuropeptidergic cell-to-cell signaling central to neuroendocrine physiology.
We present spatial light interference microscopy (SLIM) as a new optical microscopy technique, capable of measuring nanoscale structures and dynamics in live cells via interferometry. SLIM combines two classic ideas in light imaging: Zernikes phase contrast microscopy, which renders high contrast intensity images of transparent specimens, and Gabors holography, where the phase information from the object is recorded. Thus, SLIM reveals the intrinsic contrast of cell structures and, in addition, renders quantitative optical path-length maps across the sample. The resulting topographic accuracy is comparable to that of atomic force microscopy, while the acquisition speed is 1,000 times higher. We illustrate the novel insight into cell dynamics via SLIM by experiments on primary cell cultures from the rat brain. SLIM is implemented as an add-on module to an existing phase contrast microscope, which may prove instrumental in impacting the light microscopy field at a large scale.
Dopamine (DA) receptors are the principal targets of drugs used in the treatment of schizophrenia. Among the five DA receptor subtypes, the D(4) subtype is of particular interest because of the relatively high affinity of the atypical neuropleptic clozapine for D(4) compared with D(2) receptors. GABA-containing neurons in the thalamic reticular nucleus (TRN) and globus pallidus (GP) express D(4) receptors. TRN neurons receive GABAergic afferents from globus pallidus (GP), substantia nigra pars reticulata (SNr), and basal forebrain as well as neighboring TRN neuron collaterals. In addition, TRN receives dopaminergic innervations from substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc); however, the role of D(4) receptors in neuronal signaling at inhibitory synapses is unknown. Using whole cell recordings from in vitro pallido-thalamic slices, we demonstrate that DA selectively suppresses GABA(A) receptor-mediated inhibitory postsynaptic currents (IPSCs) evoked by GP stimulation. The D(2)-like receptor (D(2,3,4)) agonist, quinpirole, and selective D(4) receptor agonist, PD168077, mimicked the actions of DA. The suppressive actions of DA and its agonists were associated with alterations in paired pulse ratio and a decrease in the frequency of miniature IPSCs, suggesting a presynaptic site of action. GABA(A) receptor agonist, muscimol, induced postsynaptic currents in TRN neurons were unaltered by DA or quinpirole, consistent with the presynaptic site of action. Finally, DA agonists did not alter intra-TRN inhibitory signaling. Our data demonstrate that the activation of presynaptic D(4) receptors regulates GABA release from GP efferents but not TRN collaterals. This novel and selective action of D(4) receptor activation on GP-mediated inhibition may provide insight to potential functional significance of atypical antipsychotic agents. These findings suggest a potential heightened TRN neuron activity in certain neurological conditions, such as schizophrenia and attention deficit hyperactive disorders.
We applied the newly developed Fourier transform light scattering (FTLS) to study dynamic light scattering in single live cells, at a temporal scale of seconds to hours. The nanoscale cell fluctuations were measured with and without the active actin contribution. We found experimentally that the spatio-temporal signals rendered by FTLS reveal interesting cytoskeleton dynamics in glial cells (the predominant cell type in the nervous system). The active contribution of actin cytoskeleton was obtained by modulating its dynamic properties via Cytochalasin-D, a drug that inhibits actin polymerization/depolymerization.
Neuropeptides are critical integrative elements within the central circadian clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), where they mediate both cell-to-cell synchronization and phase adjustments that cause light entrainment. Forward peptidomics identified little SAAS, derived from the proSAAS prohormone, among novel SCN peptides, but its role in the SCN is poorly understood.
Genomic and proteomic studies of brain regions of specialized function provide evidence that communication among neurons is mediated by systems of diverse chemical messengers. These analyses are largely tissue- or population-based, whereas the actual communication is from cell-to-cell. To understand the complement of intercellular signals produced by individual neurons, new methods are required. We have developed a novel neuron-to-neuron, serum-free, co-culture approach that was used to determine the higher-level cellular peptidome of individual primary mammalian neurons. We isolated magnocellular neurons from the supraoptic nucleus of early postnatal rat and maintained them in serum-free low density cultures without glial support layers; under these conditions they required low-density co-cultured neurons. Co-culturing magnocellular neurons with hippocampal neurons permitted local access to individual neurons within the culture for mass spectrometry. Using direct sampling, peptide profiles were obtained for spatially distinct, identifiable neurons within the co-culture. We repeatedly detected 10 peaks that we assign to previously characterized peptides and 17 peaks that remain unassigned. Peptides from the vasopressin prohormone and secretogranin-2 are attributed to magnocellular neurons, whereas neurokinin A, peptide J, and neurokinin B are attributed to cultured hippocampal neurons. This approach enables the elucidation of cell-specific prohormone processing and the discovery of cell-cell signaling peptides.
Wiring the nervous system relies on the interplay of intrinsic and extrinsic signaling molecules that control neurite extension, neuronal polarity, process maturation and experience-dependent refinement. Extrinsic signals establish and enrich neuron-neuron interactions during development. Understanding how such extrinsic cues direct neurons to establish neural connections in vitro will facilitate the development of organized neural networks for investigating the development and function of nervous system networks. Producing ordered networks of neurons with defined connectivity in vitro presents special technical challenges because the results must be compliant with the biological requirements of rewiring neural networks. Here we demonstrate the ability to form stable, instructive surface-bound gradients of laminin that guide postnatal hippocampal neuron development in vitro. Our work uses a three-channel, interconnected microfluidic device that permits the production of adlayers of planar substrates through the combination of laminar flow, diffusion and physisorption. Through simple flow modifications, a variety of patterns and gradients of laminin (LN) and fluorescein isothiocyanate-conjugated poly-l-lysine (FITC-PLL) were deposited to present neurons with an instructive substratum to guide neuronal development. We present three variations in substrate design that produce distinct growth regimens for postnatal neurons in dispersed cell cultures. In the first approach, diffusion-mediated gradients of LN were formed on cover slips to guide neurons toward increasing LN concentrations. In the second approach, a combined gradient of LN and FITC-PLL was produced using aspiration-driven laminar flow to restrict neuronal growth to a 15 microm wide growth zone at the center of the two superimposed gradients. The last approach demonstrates the capacity to combine binary lines of FITC-PLL in conjunction with surface gradients of LN and bovine serum albumin (BSA) to produce substrate adlayers that provide additional levels of control over growth. This work demonstrates the advantages of spatio-temporal fluid control for patterning surface-bound gradients using a simple microfluidics-based substrate deposition procedure. We anticipate that this microfluidics-based patterning approach will provide instructive patterns and surface-bound gradients to enable a new level of control in guiding neuron development and network formation.
Spatial light interference microscopy (SLIM) is a novel method developed in our laboratory that provides quantitative phase images of transparent structures with a 0.3 nm spatial and 0.03 nm temporal accuracy owing to the white light illumination and its common path interferometric geometry. We exploit these features and demonstrate SLIMs ability to perform topography at a single atomic layer in graphene. Further, using a decoupling procedure that we developed for cylindrical structures, we extract the axially averaged refractive index of semiconductor nanotubes and a neurite of a live hippocampal neuron in culture. We believe that this study will set the basis for novel high-throughput topography and refractometry of man-made and biological nanostructures.
Understanding how a small brain region, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), can synchronize the bodys circadian rhythms is an ongoing research area. This important time-keeping system requires a complex suite of peptide hormones and transmitters that remain incompletely characterized. Here, capillary liquid chromatography and FTMS have been coupled with tailored software for the analysis of endogenous peptides present in the SCN of the rat brain. After ex vivo processing of brain slices, peptide extraction, identification, and characterization from tandem FTMS data with <5-ppm mass accuracy produced a hyperconfident list of 102 endogenous peptides, including 33 previously unidentified peptides, and 12 peptides that were post-translationally modified with amidation, phosphorylation, pyroglutamylation, or acetylation. This characterization of endogenous peptides from the SCN will aid in understanding the molecular mechanisms that mediate rhythmic behaviors in mammals.
Circadian rhythms in physiology and behavior are temporally synchronized to the day/night cycle through the action of light on the circadian clock. In mammals, transduction of the photic signal reaching the circadian oscillator in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) occurs through the release of glutamate and pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide (PACAP). The authors study aimed at clarifying the role played by PACAP in photic resetting and entrainment. They investigated the circadian response to light of PACAPnullmice lacking the 5th exon of the PACAP coding sequence. Specifically, they examined free-running rhythms, entrainment to 12-h light:12-h dark (LD)cycles, the phase-response curve (PRC) to single light pulses, entrainment to a23-h T-cycle, re-entrainment to 6-h phase shifts in LD cycles, and light-induced c-Fos expression. PACAP-null and wild-type mice show similar free-running periods and similar entrainment to 12:12 LD cycles. However, the PRC of PACAP-null mice lacks a phase-advance portion. Surprisingly, despite the absence of phase advance to single light pulses, PACAP-null mice are able to entrain to a 23-h T-cycle, but with a significantly longer phase angle of entrainment than wild types. In addition, PACAP-null mice re-entrain more slowly to a 6-h phase advance of the LD cycle. Nevertheless, induction of c-Fos by light in late night is normal. In all experiments, PACAP-null mice show specific behavioral impairments in response to phase-advancing photic stimuli. These results suggest that PACAP is required for the normal integration of the phase advancing light signal by the SCN.
We explore textural cues as a mechanism for controlling neuronal process outgrowth in primary cultures of mammalian neurons. The work uses a form of decal transfer lithography to generate arrays of PDMS posts of various dimensions and spacings on glass substrates that are rendered growth-compliant by subsequent treatment with a protein activator. Hippocampal neurons plated on these substrates are used to determine how the posts direct process growth by acting as attachment points or guidance cues. Textural features varying over a large range, even as large as 100 microm in diameter, dramatically affect process growth. Indeed, two growth regimes are observed; at the smaller feature sizes considered, process branching strongly aligns (at right angles) along the post mesh, while neuronal outgrowth on the larger feature sizes elicits process wrapping. The latter behavior most strongly manifests in neurons plated initially at approximately 100 cells/mm(2), where the cells were able to form networks, while for isolated neurons, the cells exhibit poorer viability and development. Bag cell neurons from Aplysia californica also display regular growth patterns, but in this case are guided by contact avoidance of the posts, a behavior qualitatively different than that of the hippocampal neurons.
The brain is the most intricate, energetically active, and plastic organ in the body. These features extend to its cellular elements, the neurons and glia. Understanding neurons, or nerve cells, at the cellular and molecular levels is the cornerstone of modern neuroscience. The complexities of neuron structure and function require unusual methods of culture to determine how aberrations in or between cells give rise to brain dysfunction and disease. Here we review the methods that have emerged over the past century for culturing neurons in vitro, from the landmark finding by Harrison (1910) - that neurons can be cultured outside the body - to studies utilizing culture vessels, micro-islands, Campenot and brain slice chambers, and microfluidic technologies. We conclude with future prospects for neuronal culture and considerations for advancement. We anticipate that continued innovation in culture methods will enhance design capabilities for temporal control of media and reagents (chemotemporal control) within sub-cellular environments of three-dimensional fluidic spaces (microfluidic devices) and materials (e.g., hydrogels). They will enable new insights into the complexities of neuronal development and pathology.
Understanding the signals that guide neuronal development and direct formation of axons, dendrites, and synapses during wiring of the brain is a fundamental challenge in developmental neuroscience. Discovery of how local signals shape developing neurons has been impeded by the inability of conventional culture methods to interrogate microenvironments of complex neuronal cytoarchitectures, where different subdomains encounter distinct chemical, physical, and fluidic features. Microfabrication techniques are facilitating the creation of microenvironments tailored to neuronal structures and subdomains with unprecedented access and control. The design, fabrication, and properties of microfluidic devices offer significant advantages for addressing unresolved issues of neuronal development. These high-resolution approaches are poised to contribute new insights into mechanisms for restoring neuronal function and connectivity compromised by injury, stress, and neurodegeneration.
Thalamocortical neurons in dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN) dynamically convey visual information from retina to the neocortex. Activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) exerts multiple effects on neural integration in dLGN; however, their direct influence on the primary sensory input, namely retinogeniculate afferents, is unknown. In the present study, we found that pharmacological or synaptic activation of type 1 mGluRs (mGluR(1)s) significantly depresses glutamatergic retinogeniculate excitation in rat thalamocortical neurons. Pharmacological activation of mGluR(1)s attenuates excitatory synaptic responses in thalamocortical neurons at a magnitude sufficient to decrease suprathreshold output of these neurons. The reduction in both NMDA and AMPA receptor-dependent synaptic responses results from a presynaptic reduction in glutamate release from retinogeniculate terminals. The suppression of retinogeniculate synaptic transmission and dampening of thalamocortical output was mimicked by tetanic activation of retinogeniculate afferent in a frequency-dependent manner that activated mGluR(1)s. Retinogeniculate excitatory synaptic transmission was also suppressed by the glutamate transport blocker TBOA (dl-threo-?-benzyloxyaspartic acid), suggesting that mGluR(1)s were activated by glutamate spillover. The data indicate that presynaptic mGluR(1) contributes to an activity-dependent mechanism that regulates retinogeniculate excitation and therefore plays a significant role in the thalamic gating of visual information.
Daily rhythms of mammalian physiology, metabolism, and behavior parallel the day-night cycle. They are orchestrated by a central circadian clock in the brain, the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Transcription of clock genes is sensitive to metabolic changes in reduction and oxidation (redox); however, circadian cycles in protein oxidation have been reported in anucleate cells, where no transcription occurs. We investigated whether the SCN also expresses redox cycles and how such metabolic oscillations might affect neuronal physiology. We detected self-sustained circadian rhythms of SCN redox state that required the molecular clockwork. The redox oscillation could determine the excitability of SCN neurons through nontranscriptional modulation of multiple potassium (K(+)) channels. Thus, dynamic regulation of SCN excitability appears to be closely tied to metabolism that engages the clockwork machinery.
Astrocytes play an active role in the modulation of synaptic transmission by releasing cell-cell signaling molecules in response to various stimuli that evoke a Ca2+ increase. We expand on recent studies of astrocyte intracellular and secreted proteins by examining the astrocyte peptidome in mouse astrocytic cell lines and rat primary cultured astrocytes, as well as those peptides secreted from mouse astrocytic cell lines in response to Ca2+-dependent stimulations. We identified 57 peptides derived from 24 proteins with LC-MS/MS and CE-MS/MS in the astrocytes. Among the secreted peptides, four peptides derived from elongation factor 1, macrophage migration inhibitory factor, peroxiredoxin-5, and galectin-1 were putatively identified by mass-matching to peptides confirmed to be found in astrocytes. Other peptides in the secretion study were mass-matched to those found in prior peptidomics analyses on mouse brain tissue. Complex peptide profiles were observed after stimulation, suggesting that astrocytes are actively involved in peptide secretion. Twenty-six peptides were observed in multiple stimulation experiments but not in controls and thus appear to be released in a Ca2+-dependent manner. These results can be used in future investigations to better understand stimulus-dependent mechanisms of astrocyte peptide secretion.
Single-cell measurements allow a unique glimpse into cell-to-cell heterogeneity; even small changes in selected cells can have a profound impact on an organisms physiology. Here an integrated approach to single-cell chemical sampling and assay are described. Capillary electrophoresis (CE) with laser-induced native fluorescence (LINF) has the sensitivity to characterize natively fluorescent indoles and catechols within individual cells. While the separation and detection approaches are well established, the sampling and injection of individually selected cells requires new approaches. We describe an optimized system that interfaces a single-beam optical trap with CE and multichannel LINF detection. A cell is localized within the trap and then the capillary inlet is positioned near the cell using a computer-controlled micromanipulator. Hydrodynamic injection allows cell lysis to occur within the capillary inlet, followed by the CE separation and LINF detection. The use of multiple emission wavelengths allows improved analyte identification based on differences in analyte fluorescence emission profiles and migration time. The system enables injections of individual rat pinealocytes and quantification of their endogenous indoles, including serotonin, N-acetyl-serotonin, 5-hydroxyindole-3-acetic acid, tryptophol and others. The amounts detected in individual cells incubated in 5-hydroxytryptophan ranged from 10(-14) mol to 10(-16) mol, an order of magnitude higher than observed in untreated pinealocytes.
Significance: Functional states of organisms vary rhythmically with a period of about a day (i.e., circadian). This endogenous dynamic is shaped by day-night alternations in light and energy. Mammalian circadian rhythms are orchestrated by the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a brain region specialized for timekeeping. These autonomous ~24-h oscillations are cell-based, requiring transcription-translation-based regulation. SCN circadian oscillations include maintenance of intrinsic rhythms, sensitivities to input signals, and generation of output signals. These change predictably as time proceeds from dawn to day, dusk, and through the night. SCN neuronal excitability, a highly energy-demanding process, also oscillates over ~24 hours. The nature of the relationship of cellular metabolism and excitability had been unknown. Recent Advances: Global SCN redox state was found to undergo an autonomous circadian rhythm. Redox state is relatively reduced in daytime, when neuronal activity is high, and oxidized during nighttime, when neurons are relatively inactive. Redox modulates neuronal excitability via tight coupling: imposed reducing or oxidizing shifts immediately alter membrane excitability. Whereas an intact transcription-translation oscillator is necessary for the redox oscillation, metabolic modulation of excitability is too rapid to be under clockwork control. Critical Issues: Our observations lead to the hypothesis that redox state and neuronal activity are coupled non-transcriptional circadian oscillators in SCN neurons. Critical issues include discovering molecular and cellular substrates and functional consequences of this redox oscillator. Future Directions: Understanding interdependencies between cellular energy metabolism, neuronal activity, and circadian rhythms is critical to developing therapeutic strategies for treating neurodegenerative diseases and brain metabolic syndromes.
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