Fear extinction involves the formation of a new memory trace that attenuates fear responses to a conditioned aversive memory, and extinction impairments are implicated in trauma- and stress-related disorders. Previous studies in rodents have found that the infralimbic prefrontal cortex (IL) and its glutamatergic projections to the basolateral amygdala (BLA) and basomedial amygdala (BMA) instruct the formation of fear extinction memories. However, it is unclear whether these pathways are exclusively involved in extinction, or whether other major targets of the IL, such as the nucleus accumbens (NAc) also play a role. To address this outstanding issue, the current study employed a combination of electrophysiological and chemogenetic approaches in mice to interrogate the role of IL-BLA and IL-NAc pathways in extinction. Specifically, we used patch-clamp electrophysiology coupled with retrograde tracing to examine changes in neuronal activity of the IL and prelimbic cortex (PL) projections to both the BLA and NAc following fear extinction. We found that extinction produced a significant increase in the intrinsic excitability of IL-BLA projection neurons, while extinction appeared to reverse fear-induced changes in IL-NAc projection neurons. To establish a causal counterpart to these observations, we then used a pathway-specific Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADD) strategy to selectively inhibit PFC-BLA projection neurons during extinction acquisition. Using this approach, we found that DREADD-mediated inhibition of PFC-BLA neurons during extinction acquisition impaired subsequent extinction retrieval. Taken together, our findings provide further evidence for a critical contribution of the IL-BLA neural circuit to fear extinction.
The segregation of the trophectoderm (TE) from the inner cell mass (ICM) in the mouse blastocyst is determined by position-dependent Hippo signaling. However, the window of responsiveness to Hippo signaling, the exact timing of lineage commitment and the overall relationship between cell commitment and global gene expression changes are still unclear. Single-cell RNA sequencing during lineage segregation revealed that the TE transcriptional profile stabilizes earlier than the ICM and prior to blastocyst formation. Using quantitative Cdx2-eGFP expression as a readout of Hippo signaling activity, we assessed the experimental potential of individual blastomeres based on their level of Cdx2-eGFP expression and correlated potential with gene expression dynamics. We find that TE specification and commitment coincide and occur at the time of transcriptional stabilization, whereas ICM cells still retain the ability to regenerate TE up to the early blastocyst stage. Plasticity of both lineages is coincident with their window of sensitivity to Hippo signaling.
GABAA receptor subunit composition is a critical determinant of receptor localization and physiology, with synaptic receptors generating phasic inhibition and extrasynaptic receptors producing tonic inhibition. Extrasynaptically localized α5 GABAA receptors are largely responsible for tonic inhibition in hippocampal neurons. However, we show here that inhibitory synapses also contain a constant level of α5 GABAA receptors throughout neuronal development, as measured by its colocalization with gephyrin, the inhibitory postsynaptic scaffolding protein. Immunoprecipitation of the α5 subunit from both cultured neurons and adult rat brain coimmunoprecipitated gephyrin, confirming this interaction in vivo. Furthermore, the α5 subunit can interact with gephyrin independent of other synaptically localized alpha subunits, as shown by immunoprecipitation experiments in HEK cells. By replacing the α5 predicted gephyrin binding domain (Residues 370-385) with either the high affinity gephyrin binding domain of the α2 subunit or homologous residues from the extrasynaptic α4 subunit that does not interact with gephyrin, α5 GABAA receptor localization shifted into or out of the synapse, respectively. These shifts in the ratio of synaptic/extrasynaptic α5 localization disrupted dendritic outgrowth and spine maturation. In contrast to the predominant view of α5 GABAA receptors being extrasynaptic and modulating tonic inhibition, we identify an intimate association of the α5 subunit with gephyrin, resulting in constant synaptic levels of α5 GABAA R throughout circuit formation that regulates neuronal development.