Calcium imaging of individual neurons is widely used for monitoring their activity in vitro and in vivo. Synthetic fluorescent calcium indicator dyes are commonly used, but the resulting calcium signals sometimes suffer from a low signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Therefore, it is difficult to detect signals caused by single action potentials (APs) particularly from neurons in vivo. Here we showed that a recently developed calcium indicator dye, Cal-520, is sufficiently sensitive to reliably detect single APs both in vitro and in vivo. In neocortical neurons, calcium signals were linearly correlated with the number of APs, and the SNR was > 6 for in vitro slice preparations and > 1.6 for in vivo anesthetised mice. In cerebellar Purkinje cells, dendritic calcium transients evoked by climbing fiber inputs were clearly observed in anesthetised mice with a high SNR and fast decay time. These characteristics of Cal-520 are a great advantage over those of Oregon Green BAPTA-1, the most commonly used calcium indicator dye, for monitoring the activity of individual neurons both in vitro and in vivo.
Cerebellar cortex has an elaborate rostrocaudal organization comprised of numerous microzones. Purkinje cells (PCs) in the same microzone show synchronous activity of complex spikes (CSs) evoked by excitatory inputs from climbing fibers (CFs) that arise from neurons in the inferior olive (IO). The synchronous CS activity is considered to depend on electrical coupling among IO neurons and anatomical organization of the olivo-cerebellar projection. To determine how the CF-PC wiring contributes to the formation of microzone, we examined the synchronous CS activities between neighboring PCs in the glutamate receptor ?2 knockout (GluD2 KO) mouse in which exuberant surplus CFs make ectopic innervations onto distal dendrites of PCs. We performed in vivo two-photon calcium imaging for PC populations to detect CF inputs. Neighboring PCs in GluD2 KO mice showed higher synchrony of calcium transients than those in wild-type (control) mice. Moreover, the synchrony in GluD2 KO mice hardly declined with mediolateral separation between PCs up to ~200 ?m, which was in marked contrast to the falloff of the synchrony in control mice. The enhanced synchrony was only partially affected by the blockade of gap junctional coupling. On the other hand, transverse CF collaterals in GluD2 KO mice extended beyond the border of microzone and formed locally clustered ectopic synapses onto dendrites of neighboring PCs. Furthermore, PCs in GluD2 KO mice exhibited clustered firing (Cf), the characteristic CF response that was not found in PCs of wild-type mice. Importantly, Cf was often associated with localized calcium transients in distal dendrites of PCs, which are likely to contribute to the enhanced synchrony of calcium signals in GluD2 KO mice. Thus, our results indicate that CF signals in GluD2 KO mice propagate across multiple microzones, and that proper formation of longitudinal olivo-cerebellar projection is essential for the spatiotemporal organization of CS activity in the cerebellum.
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