Tag Archives: immediate early gene

#SFN10 Itinerary Pt. 2

Continuing on…

1) 31.20/C37 – Dentate network activity modulates integration of newborn granule cells
1Inst. of Cell Biology, Swiss Federal Inst. of Technol. (ETH), Zürich, Switzerland; 2Brain Res. Inst., Univ. of Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland; 3Univ. of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland; 4Brain Res. Inst., Univ. of Zurich, Zürich, Switzerland; 5Swiss Federal Inst. of Technol. (ETH), Zürich, Switzerland

This looks interesting because there is so little known about how neuronal activity regulates neurogenesis. In 2007 Toni et al. suggested that dendritic filopodia on new neurons form synapses with presynaptic boutons that have already formed a synapse onto a different (presumably mature) neuron. The question addressed here is whether altering excitability/plasticity at those pre-existing synapses affects the subsequent formation of new neuron synapses. In other words, if you make old neurons more plastic, will they outcompete new neurons for synaptic space? Seems maybe they do.

2) 203.9/KKK52 – Coding of temporal context in the hippocampus: Do rate codes offer insight into a time-of-day signature?
1Dept of Neurosci., Univ. of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, AB, Canada; 2Ctr. for Neural Circuits and Behavior, Neurobiol Section, Div. of Biol Sci., UCSD, LA JOLLA, CA

We all know the hippocampus is important for episodic (-like) memory yet activity in hippocampal neurons is usually only measured in relation to spatial information. Memories also often contain temporal information and Rob Sutherland (one of the authors) has shown that rats indeed integrate time-of-day information into their memories. Here, measuring electrophysiological activity in hippocampal neurons, it is reported that 1) hippocampal neurons fire when a rat is in a specific spatial location, as expected; 2) when nearby contextual features are altered (square vs circular exploration chamber) the same population of neurons are active in the same places but they fire at different rates (rate coding); 3) what is unique here: hippocampal neurons also used a rate code to differentiate between a given context explored in the morning vs the afternoon. Thus, time-of-day is a contextual feature that is encoded in the hippocampus. Interestingly, it is reported that the rate codes for spatial and temporal information are carried by different populations of neurons.

3) 330.6/A6 – Experience specific information encoding by newborn neurons of the adult dentate gyrus
Salk Inst., La Jolla, CA

This presentation builds on Kee 2007, who showed that 10-week-old neurons are only activated in the water maze if they were functional at the time of the original water maze training, and Tashiro 2006 who claimed that, when a mouse re-experiences something, it is new neurons that were in their critical period during the original experience that are activated. We still have a ways to go before we understand how faithful new neurons are in their responding to different experiences – their enhanced plasticity and unique physiology has caused some speculation that they could be promiscuous, participating in many different experiences. This study seems like it may have the best evidence that young neurons are in fact quite selective in what they encode.

Everything you always wanted to know about neurogenesis timecourses (but were afraid to ask)

Most studies of adult neurogenesis are concerned with neuronal age. Or at least they should be. This is because new neurons develop from a stage where they have no excitatory synapses to one where they have many. If we assume the traditional view that information is stored at excitatory synaptic connections, then young neurons are initially useless and only become physiologically and behaviorally meaningful when they have matured to a point where they can relay and process information. It is therefore critical that the developmental timecourse of new neurons be mapped out, so we know when new neurons become functionally relevant, or whether they might even have different functions at different ages.

Below are what I hope to be comprehensive visual collages of all published timecourse experiments, where a certain property of new neurons is examined at multiple (≥ 3) different ages. They are grouped by studies of: 1) cell survival, 2) marker expression, 3) functionality, and 4) miscellaneous studies that do not quite fit into the first 3 categories. I’ve ordered the data roughly chronologically and have included the first author’s name and publication year so you can read deeper, if needed. Indeed, if you know these studies already, a brief look at the graphs will bring back the take home message. However, since the data is stripped of text, if the studies are unfamiliar, you’ll have to go to the original source to figure out what the heck they mean (use Pubmed to at least obtain abstracts for the original studies if I didn’t provide a direct link).

Personally, I like timecourse studies for the same reason I like to have all my music albums or books visible at the same time: at a single glance they provide a lot of information – each individual stage of maturation can be interpreted within a bigger picture. The result of these many hours of work will either be a) that the purpose of adult neurogenesis will become immediately clear, or b) that we’ll all have some fancy collages to pin on our bulletin boards and look intelligent.

The survival timecourse

addition of new neurons

New neurons are born and then many die. The survival timecourse answers the questions: How many new neurons are born? Where are they born and where do they end up, anatomically? How many of them survive and can their survival be altered? Survival timecourses are typically performed by injecting animals with a mitotic marker that will label new neurons as they’re being born, e.g. ³H-thymidine (old school), BrdU (tried and true – example), or a GFP-expressing retrovirus (new school). At a later date one can then detect these birthdated new neurons and count them, see where they’re located etc.

Continue reading Everything you always wanted to know about neurogenesis timecourses (but were afraid to ask)