Spinocerebellar ataxia type 5 (SCA5), a dominant neurodegenerative disease characterized by profound Purkinje cell loss, is caused by mutations in SPTBN2, a gene that encodes ?-III spectrin. SCA5 is the first neurodegenerative disorder reported to be caused by mutations in a cytoskeletal spectrin gene. We have developed a mouse model to understand the mechanistic basis for this disease and show that expression of mutant but not wild-type ?-III spectrin causes progressive motor deficits and cerebellar degeneration. We show that endogenous ?-III spectrin interacts with the metabotropic glutamate receptor 1? (mGluR1?) and that mice expressing mutant ?-III spectrin have cerebellar dysfunction with altered mGluR1? localization at Purkinje cell dendritic spines, decreased mGluR1-mediated responses, and deficient mGluR1-mediated long-term potentiation. These results indicate that mutant ?-III spectrin causes mislocalization and dysfunction of mGluR1? at dendritic spines and connects SCA5 with other disorders involving glutamatergic dysfunction and synaptic plasticity abnormalities.
Hand shaping during prehension involves intricate coordination of a complex system of bones, joints, and muscles. It is widely hypothesized that the motor system uses strategies to reduce the degrees of independent control. Both biomechanical constraints that result in coupling of the fingers and joints and neural synergies act to simplify the control problem. Synergies in hand shaping are typically defined using principal component-like analyses to define orthogonal patterns of movement. Although much less examined, joint angle velocities are also important parameters governing prehension. The primary goal of this study was to evaluate joint angles and joint angle velocities during prehension in monkeys. Fourteen joint angles and angular velocities were measured as monkeys reached to and grasped a set of objects designed to systematically vary hand shapes. Hand shaping patterns in joint angles and velocities were examined using singular value decomposition (SVD). Highly correlated patterns of movements were observed in both joint angles and joint angle velocities, but there was little correlation between the two, suggesting that velocities are controlled separately. Joint angles and velocities can be defined by a small number of eigenvectors by SVD. The unresolved question of the functional relevance of higher-order eigenvectors was also evaluated. Results support that higher-order components are not easily distinguished from noise and are likely not of physiological significance.
Historically the cerebellum has been implicated in the control of movement. However, the cerebellum's role in non-motor functions, including cognitive and emotional processes, has also received increasing attention. Starting from the premise that the uniform architecture of the cerebellum underlies a common mode of information processing, this review examines recent electrophysiological findings on the motor signals encoded in the cerebellar cortex and then relates these signals to observations in the non-motor domain. Simple spike firing of individual Purkinje cells encodes performance errors, both predicting upcoming errors as well as providing feedback about those errors. Further, this dual temporal encoding of prediction and feedback involves a change in the sign of the simple spike modulation. Therefore, Purkinje cell simple spike firing both predicts and responds to feedback about a specific parameter, consistent with computing sensory prediction errors in which the predictions about the consequences of a motor command are compared with the feedback resulting from the motor command execution. These new findings are in contrast with the historical view that complex spikes encode errors. Evaluation of the kinematic coding in the simple spike discharge shows the same dual temporal encoding, suggesting this is a common mode of signal processing in the cerebellar cortex. Decoding analyses show the considerable accuracy of the predictions provided by Purkinje cells across a range of times. Further, individual Purkinje cells encode linearly and independently a multitude of signals, both kinematic and performance errors. Therefore, the cerebellar cortex's capacity to make associations across different sensory, motor and non-motor signals is large. The results from studying how Purkinje cells encode movement signals suggest that the cerebellar cortex circuitry can support associative learning, sequencing, working memory, and forward internal models in non-motor domains.
The role of parallel fibers (PFs) in cerebellar physiology remains controversial. Early studies inspired the "beam" hypothesis whereby granule cell (GC) activation results in PF-driven, postsynaptic excitation of beams of Purkinje cells (PCs). However, the "radial" hypothesis postulates that the ascending limb of the GC axon provides the dominant input to PCs and generates patch-like responses. Using optical imaging and single-cell recordings in the mouse cerebellar cortex in vivo, this study reexamines the beam versus radial controversy. Electrical stimulation of mossy fibers (MFs) as well as microinjection of NMDA in the granular layer generates beam-like responses with a centrally located patch-like response. Remarkably, ipsilateral forepaw stimulation evokes a beam-like response in Crus I. Discrete molecular layer lesions demonstrate that PFs contribute to the peripherally generated responses in Crus I. In contrast, vibrissal stimulation induces patch-like activation of Crus II and GABAA antagonists fail to convert this patch-like activity into a beam-like response, implying that molecular layer inhibition does not prevent beam-like responses. However, blocking excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) generates beam-like responses in Crus II. These beam-like responses are suppressed by focal inhibition of MF-GC synaptic transmission. Using EAAT4 reporter transgenic mice, we show that peripherally evoked patch-like responses in Crus II are aligned between parasagittal bands of EAAT4. This is the first study to demonstrate beam-like responses in the cerebellar cortex to peripheral, MF, and GC stimulation in vivo. Furthermore, the spatial pattern of the responses depends on extracellular glutamate and its local regulation by EAATs.
Previous studies indicate that while transgenic mice with ATXN1[30Q]-D776-induced disease share pathological features caused by ATXN1[82Q] having an expanded polyglutamine tract, they fail to manifest the age-related progressive neurodegeneration seen in spinocerebellar ataxia type 1. The shared features include morphological alterations in climbing fiber (CF) innervation of Purkinje cells (PCs). To further investigate the ability of ataxin-1 (ATXN1) to impact CF/PC innervation, this study used morphological and functional approaches to examine CF/PC innervation during postnatal development in ATXN1[30Q]-D776 and ATXN1[82Q] cerebella. Notably, ATXN1[30Q]-D776 induced morphological alterations consistent with the development of the innervation of PCs by CFs being compromised, including a reduction of CF translocation along the PC dendritic tree, and decreased pruning of CF terminals from the PC soma. As previously shown for ATXN1[82Q], ATXN1[30Q]-D776 must enter the nucleus of PCs to induce these alterations. Experiments using conditional ATXN1[30Q]-D776 mice demonstrate that both the levels and specific timing of mutant ATXN1 expression are critical for alteration of the CF-PC synapse. Together these observations suggest that ATXN1, expressed exclusively in PCs, alters expression of a gene(s) in the postsynaptic PC that are critical for its innervation by CFs. To investigate whether ATXN1[30Q]-D776 curbs the progressive disease in ATXN1[82Q]-S776 mice, we crossed ATXN1[30Q]-D776 and ATXN1[82Q]-S776 mice and found that double transgenic mice developed progressive PC atrophy. Thus, the results also show that to develop progressive cerebellar degeneration requires expressing ATXN1 with an expanded polyglutamine tract.
Processing motor errors is essential for online control of goal-directed movements and motor learning. Evidence from psychophysical and imaging studies supports the long-standing view that error processing is central to cerebellar function. The dominant view is that error-related signals are encoded in the complex spike discharge of Purkinje cells. However, the findings are inconsistent on whether complex spike activity correlates with motor errors. Recently, we examined if simple spike firing carries error signals in monkeys trained to manually track a randomly moving target. The task requires continuous processing of motor errors characterized by the relative movements between the hand-driven cursor and the target center. Linear regression models show that error parameters are robustly represented in the simple spike activity of most Purkinje cells. At the single cell level, the error signals are encoded independently and integrated with kinematic signals. In a large majority of Purkinje cells, correlation strengths between the simple spike discharge and an error parameter have bimodal profiles with respect to time, exhibiting a local maxima corresponding to firing leading the behavior and another one corresponding to firing lagging behavior. The bimodal temporal profiles suggest that individual error parameters are dually encoded as both an internal prediction used for feedback-independent, compensatory movements and the actual sensory feedback used to monitor performance. Approximately 75 % of the dual representations have opposing modulations of the simple spike activity, one increasing firing and the other depressing firing, as reflected by the reversed signs of the regression coefficients corresponding to the local maxima of the R (2) profile. These dual representations of individual parameters with opposing modulation of the simple spike firing are consistent with the signals needed to generate sensory prediction errors used to update an internal model.
One fundamental unanswered question in the field of polyglutamine diseases concerns the pathophysiology of neuronal dysfunction. Is there dysfunction in a specific neuronal population or circuit initially that contributes the onset of behavioral abnormalities? This study used a systems-level approach to investigate the functional integrity of the excitatory cerebellar cortical circuitry in vivo from several transgenic ATXN1 mouse lines. We tested the hypotheses that there are functional climbing fiber (CF)-Purkinje cell (PC) and parallel fiber (PF)-PC circuit abnormalities using flavoprotein autofluorescence optical imaging and extracellular field potential recordings. In early-symptomatic and symptomatic animals expressing ATXN1[82Q], there is a marked reduction in PC responsiveness to CF activation. Immunostaining of vesicular glutamate transporter type 2 demonstrated a decrement in CF extension on PC dendrites in symptomatic ATXN1[82Q] mice. In contrast, responses to PF stimulation were relatively normal. Importantly, the deficits in CF-PC synaptic transmission required expression of pathogenic ataxin-1 (ATXN1[82Q]) and for its entrance into the nucleus of PCs. Loss of endogenous mouse Atxn1 had no discernible effects. Furthermore, the abnormalities in CF-PC synaptic transmission were ameliorated when mutant transgene expression was prevented during postnatal cerebellar development. The results demonstrate the preferential susceptibility of the CF-PC circuit to the effects of ATXN1[82Q]. Further, this deficit likely contributes to the abnormal motor phenotype of ATXN1[82Q] mice. For polyglutamine diseases generally, the findings support a model whereby specific neuronal circuits suffer insults that alter function before cell death.
Encoding of movement kinematics in Purkinje cell simple spike discharge has important implications for hypotheses of cerebellar cortical function. Several outstanding questions remain regarding representation of these kinematic signals. It is uncertain whether kinematic encoding occurs in unpredictable, feedback-dependent tasks or kinematic signals are conserved across tasks. Additionally, there is a need to understand the signals encoded in the instantaneous discharge of single cells without averaging across trials or time. To address these questions, this study recorded Purkinje cell firing in monkeys trained to perform a manual random tracking task in addition to circular tracking and center-out reach. Random tracking provides for extensive coverage of kinematic workspaces. Direction and speed errors are significantly greater during random than circular tracking. Cross-correlation analyses comparing hand and target velocity profiles show that hand velocity lags target velocity during random tracking. Correlations between simple spike firing from 120 Purkinje cells and hand position, velocity, and speed were evaluated with linear regression models including a time constant, ?, as a measure of the firing lead/lag relative to the kinematic parameters. Across the population, velocity accounts for the majority of simple spike firing variability (63 ± 30% of R(adj)(2)), followed by position (28 ± 24% of R(adj)(2)) and speed (11 ± 19% of R(adj)(2)). Simple spike firing often leads hand kinematics. Comparison of regression models based on averaged vs. nonaveraged firing and kinematics reveals lower R(adj)(2) values for nonaveraged data; however, regression coefficients and ? values are highly similar. Finally, for most cells, model coefficients generated from random tracking accurately estimate simple spike firing in either circular tracking or center-out reach. These findings imply that the cerebellum controls movement kinematics, consistent with a forward internal model that predicts upcoming limb kinematics.
Flavoprotein autofluorescence imaging, an intrinsic mitochondrial signal, has proven useful for monitoring neuronal activity. In the cerebellar cortex, parallel fiber stimulation evokes a beam-like response consisting of an initial, short-duration increase in fluorescence (on-beam light phase) followed by a longer duration decrease (on-beam dark phase). Also evoked are parasagittal bands of decreased fluorescence due to molecular layer inhibition. Previous work suggests that the on-beam light phase is due to oxidative metabolism in neurons. The present study further investigated the metabolic and cellular origins of the flavoprotein signal in vivo, testing the hypotheses that the dark phase is mediated by glia activation and the inhibitory bands reflect decreased flavoprotein oxidation and increased glycolysis in neurons. Blocking postsynaptic ionotropic and metabotropic glutamate receptors abolished the on-beam light phase and the parasagittal bands without altering the on-beam dark phase. Adding glutamate transporter blockers reduced the dark phase. Replacing glucose with lactate (or pyruvate) or adding lactate to the bathing media abolished the on-beam dark phase and reduced the inhibitory bands without affecting the light phase. Blocking monocarboxylate transporters eliminated the on-beam dark phase and increased the light phase. These results confirm that the on-beam light phase is due primarily to increased oxidative metabolism in neurons. They also show that the on-beam dark phase involves activation of glycolysis in glia resulting in the generation of lactate that is transferred to neurons. Oxidative savings in neurons contributes to the decrease in fluorescence characterizing the inhibitory bands. These findings provide strong in vivo support for the astrocyte-neuron lactate shuttle hypothesis.
The parallel fibers (PFs) in the cerebellar cortex extend several millimeters along a folium in the mediolateral direction. The PFs are orthogonal to and cross several parasagittal zones defined by the olivocerebellar and corticonuclear pathways and the expression of molecular markers on Purkinje cells (PCs). The functions of these two organizations remain unclear, including whether the bands respond similarly or differentially to PF input. By using flavoprotein imaging in the anesthetized mouse in vivo, this study demonstrates that high-frequency PF stimulation, which activates a beamlike response at short latency, also evokes patches of activation at long latencies. These patches consist of increased fluorescence along the beam at latencies of 20-25 s with peak activation at 35 s. The long-latency patches are completely blocked by the type 1 metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR(1)) antagonist LY367385. Conversely, the AMPA and NMDA glutamate receptor antagonists DNQX and APV have little effect. Organized in parasagittal bands, the long-latency patches align with zebrin II-positive PC stripes. Additional Ca(2+) imaging demonstrates that the patches reflect increases in intracellular Ca(2+). Both the PLC? inhibitor U73122 and the ryanodine receptor inhibitor ryanodine completely block the long-latency patches, indicating that the patches are due to Ca(2+) release from intracellular stores. Robust, mGluR(1)-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP) of the patches is induced using a high-frequency PF stimulation conditioning paradigm that generates LTP of PF-PC synapses. Therefore, the parasagittal bands, as defined by the molecular compartmentalization of PCs, respond differentially to PF inputs via mGluR(1)-mediated release of internal Ca(2+).
This review examines the signals encoded in the discharge of cerebellar neurons during voluntary arm and hand movements, assessing the state of our knowledge and the implications for hypotheses of cerebellar function. The evidence for the representation of forces, joint torques, or muscle activity in the discharge of cerebellar neurons is limited, questioning the validity of theories that the cerebellum directly encodes the motor command. In contrast, kinematic parameters such as position, direction, and velocity are widely and robustly encoded in the activity of cerebellar neurons. These findings favor hypotheses that the cerebellum plans or controls movements in a kinematic framework, such as the proposal that the cerebellum provides a forward internal model. Error signals are needed for on-line correction and motor learning, and several hypotheses postulate the need for their representations in the cerebellum. Error signals have been described mostly in the complex spike discharge of Purkinje cells, but no consensus has emerged on the exact information signaled by complex spikes during limb movements. Newer studies suggest that simple spike firing may also encode error signals. Finally, Purkinje cells located more posterior and laterally in the cerebellar cortex and dentate neurons encode nonmotor, task-related signals such as visual cues. These results suggest that cerebellar neurons provide a complement of information about motor behaviors. We assert that additional single unit studies are needed using rich movement paradigms, given the power of this approach to directly test specific hypotheses about cerebellar function.
A fundamental question is how the CNS controls the hand with its many degrees of freedom. Several motor cortical areas, including the dorsal premotor cortex (PMd) and primary motor cortex (M1), are involved in reach to grasp. Although neurons in PMd are known to modulate in relation to the type of grasp and neurons in M1 in relation to grasp force and finger movements, whether specific parameters of whole hand shaping are encoded in the discharge of these cells has not been studied. In this study, two monkeys were trained to reach and grasp 16 objects varying in shape, size, and orientation. Grasp force was explicitly controlled, requiring the monkeys to exert either three or five levels of grasp force on each object. The animals were unable to see the objects or their hands. Single PMd and M1 neurons were recorded during the task, and cell firing was examined for modulation with object properties and grasp force. The firing of the vast majority of PMd and M1 neurons varied significantly as a function of the object presented as well as the object grasp dimension. Grasp dimension of the object was an important determinant of the firing of cells in both PMd and M1. A smaller percentage of PMd and M1 neurons were modulated by grasp force. Linear encoding was prominent with grasp force but less so with grasp dimension. The correlations with grasp dimension and grasp force were stronger in the firing of M1 than PMd neurons and across both regions the modulation with these parameters increased as reach to grasp proceeded. All PMd and M1 neurons that signaled grasp force also signaled grasp dimension, yet the two signals showed limited interactions, providing a neural substrate for the independent control of these two parameters at the behavioral level.
Microsatellite expansions cause a number of dominantly-inherited neurological diseases. Expansions in coding-regions cause protein gain-of-function effects, while non-coding expansions produce toxic RNAs that alter RNA splicing activities of MBNL and CELF proteins. Bi-directional expression of the spinocerebellar ataxia type 8 (SCA8) CTG CAG expansion produces CUG expansion RNAs (CUG(exp)) from the ATXN8OS gene and a nearly pure polyglutamine expansion protein encoded by ATXN8 CAG(exp) transcripts expressed in the opposite direction. Here, we present three lines of evidence that RNA gain-of-function plays a significant role in SCA8: 1) CUG(exp) transcripts accumulate as ribonuclear inclusions that co-localize with MBNL1 in selected neurons in the brain; 2) loss of Mbnl1 enhances motor deficits in SCA8 mice; 3) SCA8 CUG(exp) transcripts trigger splicing changes and increased expression of the CUGBP1-MBNL1 regulated CNS target, GABA-A transporter 4 (GAT4/Gabt4). In vivo optical imaging studies in SCA8 mice confirm that Gabt4 upregulation is associated with the predicted loss of GABAergic inhibition within the granular cell layer. These data demonstrate that CUG(exp) transcripts dysregulate MBNL/CELF regulated pathways in the brain and provide mechanistic insight into the CNS effects of other CUG(exp) disorders. Moreover, our demonstration that relatively short CUG(exp) transcripts cause RNA gain-of-function effects and the growing number of antisense transcripts recently reported in mammalian genomes suggest unrecognized toxic RNAs contribute to the pathophysiology of polyglutamine CAG CTG disorders.
The tottering mouse is an autosomal recessive disorder involving a missense mutation in the gene encoding P/Q-type voltage-gated Ca2+ channels. The tottering mouse has a characteristic phenotype consisting of transient attacks of dystonia triggered by stress, caffeine, or ethanol. The neural events underlying these episodes of dystonia are unknown. Flavoprotein autofluorescence optical imaging revealed transient, low-frequency oscillations in the cerebellar cortex of anesthetized and awake tottering mice but not in wild-type mice. Analysis of the frequencies, spatial extent, and power were used to characterize the oscillations. In anesthetized mice, the dominant frequencies of the oscillations are between 0.039 and 0.078 Hz. The spontaneous oscillations in the tottering mouse organize into high power domains that propagate to neighboring cerebellar cortical regions. In the tottering mouse, the spontaneous firing of 83% (73/88) of cerebellar cortical neurons exhibit oscillations at the same low frequencies. The oscillations are reduced by removing extracellular Ca2+ and blocking L-type Ca2+ channels. The oscillations are likely generated intrinsically in the cerebellar cortex because they are not affected by blocking AMPA receptors or by electrical stimulation of the parallel fiber-Purkinje cell circuit. Furthermore, local application of an L-type Ca2+ agonist in the tottering mouse generates oscillations with similar properties. The beam-like response evoked by parallel fiber stimulation is reduced in the tottering mouse. In the awake tottering mouse, transcranial flavoprotein imaging revealed low-frequency oscillations that are accentuated during caffeine-induced attacks of dystonia. During dystonia, oscillations are also present in the face and hindlimb electromyographic (EMG) activity that become significantly coherent with the oscillations in the cerebellar cortex. These low-frequency oscillations and associated cerebellar cortical dysfunction demonstrate a novel abnormality in the tottering mouse. These oscillations are hypothesized to be involved in the episodic movement disorder in this mouse model of episodic ataxia type 2.
The cerebellum has been implicated in processing motor errors required for on-line control of movement and motor learning. The dominant view is that Purkinje cell complex spike discharge signals motor errors. This study investigated whether errors are encoded in the simple spike discharge of Purkinje cells in monkeys trained to manually track a pseudorandomly moving target. Four task error signals were evaluated based on cursor movement relative to target movement. Linear regression analyses based on firing residuals ensured that the modulation with a specific error parameter was independent of the other error parameters and kinematics. The results demonstrate that simple spike firing in lobules IV-VI is significantly correlated with position, distance, and directional errors. Independent of the error signals, the same Purkinje cells encode kinematics. The strongest error modulation occurs at feedback timing. However, in 72% of cells at least one of the R(2) temporal profiles resulting from regressing firing with individual errors exhibit two peak R(2) values. For these bimodal profiles, the first peak is at a negative ? (lead) and a second peak at a positive ? (lag), implying that Purkinje cells encode both prediction and feedback about an error. For the majority of the bimodal profiles, the signs of the regression coefficients or preferred directions reverse at the times of the peaks. The sign reversal results in opposing simple spike modulation for the predictive and feedback components. Dual error representations may provide the signals needed to generate sensory prediction errors used to update a forward internal model.
This review focuses on the effects of estrogens upon the cerebellum, a brain region long ignored as a site of estrogen action. Highlighted are the diverse effects of estradiol within the cerebellum, emphasizing the importance of estradiol signaling in cerebellar development, modulation of synaptic neurotransmission in the adult, and the potential influence of estrogens on various health and disease states. We also provide new data, consistent with previous studies, in which locally synthesized estradiol modulates cerebellar glutamatergic neurotransmission, providing one underlying mechanism by which the actions of estradiol can affect this brain region.
At the molecular and circuitry levels, the cerebellum exhibits a striking parasagittal zonation as exemplified by the spatial distribution of molecules expressed on Purkinje cells and the topography of the afferent and efferent projections. The physiology and function of the zonation is less clear. Activity-dependent optical imaging has proven a useful tool to examine the physiological properties of the parasagittal zonation in the intact animal. Recent findings show that zebrin II-positive and zebrin II-negative zones differ markedly in their responses to parallel fiber inputs. These findings suggest that cerebellar cortical excitability, information processing, and synaptic plasticity depend on the intrinsic properties of different parasagittal zones.
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