On the mechanisms of cerebellar synaptic plasticity


Changes in the strength of signalling between neurones are thought to provide a cellular substrate for learning and memory. In the cerebellar cortex, raising the frequency and the strength of parallel fibre (PF) stimulation leads to a long-term depression (LTD) of the strength of signalling at the synapse between PFs and Purkinje cells (PCs), which spreads to distant synapses to the same cell via a nitric oxide (NO) dependent mechanism. At the same synapse, but under conditions of reduced post-synaptic calcium activity, raised frequency stimulation (RFS) of PFs triggers a long-term potentiation of synaptic transmission. The aims of the work described in this thesis were to investigate the conditions necessary for LTD and LTP at this synapse following RFS and to identify the origins and second messenger cascades involved in the induction and spread of LTP and LTD. In thin, parasagittal cerebellar slices whole cell patch clamp recordings were made from PCs and the effects of RFS of one of two, independent PF inputs to the same PC were examined under a range of experimental conditions. Under conditions designed to reduce post-synaptic calcium activity, RFS to a single PF input led to LTP and a decreases in paired pulse facilitation (PPF) in both pathways. This heterosynaptic potentiation was prevented by inhibition of protein kinase A (PKA) or by inhibition of NO synthase with either 7-nitroindazole (7-NI) or NG Nitro-L-argenine methyl ester. Inhibition of guanylate cyclase (GC) or protein kinase G (PKG) had no effect. A similar potentiation was observed upon application of the adenylyl cyclase (AC) activator forskolin or the NO donor spermine NONOate. Both of these treatments also resulted in an increase in the frequency of mEPSCs, which provides further evidence for a presynaptic origin of LTP. Forskolin induced potentiation and the increase in mEPSC frequency were blocked by 7-NI. The styryl dye FM1-43, a fluorescent reporter of endo- and exocytosis, was also used to further examine the possible pre-synaptic origins of LTP. RFS or forskolin application enhanced FM1-43 de-staining and NOS inhibitors blocked this effect. Application of NONOate also enhanced FM1-43 de-staining. When post-synaptic calcium activity was less strictly buffered, RFS to a single PF input led to a transient potentiation that was succeeded by LTD in both pathways. This LTD, which resembled previously described forms, was prevented by inhibition of the NO/cGMP/PKG cascade. Modification of the AC/cAMP/PKA cascade had no effect. In summary, the direction of synaptic plasticity at the PF-PC synapse in response to RFS depends largely on the level of post-synaptic calcium activity. LTP and LTD were non-input specific and both forms of plasticity were dependent on NOS activity. Induction of LTP was mediated by a presynaptic mechanism and depended on NO and cAMP production. LTD on the other hand was a post-synaptic process and required activity of the NO/cGMP/PKG signalling cascade.

Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences
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Institution: Aston University
Uncontrolled Keywords: cerebellum LTP,LTD,NO,presynaptic
Last Modified: 08 Dec 2023 08:32
Date Deposited: 07 Feb 2011 12:41
Completed Date: 2000-10
Authors: Jacoby, Sonja


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