Elimination of redundant synapses formed early in development and strengthening of necessary connections are crucial for shaping functional neural circuits. Purkinje cells (PCs) in the neonatal cerebellum are innervated by multiple climbing fibers (CFs) with similar strengths. A single CF is strengthened whereas the other CFs are eliminated in each PC during postnatal development. The underlying mechanisms, particularly for the strengthening of single CFs, are poorly understood. Here we report that progranulin, a multi-functional growth factor implicated in the pathogenesis of frontotemporal dementia, strengthens developing CF synaptic inputs and counteracts their elimination from postnatal day 11 to 16. Progranulin derived from PCs acts retrogradely onto its putative receptor Sort1 on CFs. This effect is independent of semaphorin 3A, another retrograde signaling molecule that counteracts CF synapse elimination. We propose that progranulin-Sort1 signaling strengthens and maintains developing CF inputs, and may contribute to selection of single "winner" CFs that survive synapse elimination.
In rodents, the dorsolateral striatum regulates voluntary movement by integrating excitatory inputs from the motor-related cerebral cortex and thalamus to produce contingent inhibitory output to other basal ganglia nuclei. Striatal parvalbumin (PV)-producing interneurons receiving this excitatory input then inhibit medium spiny neurons (MSNs) and modify their outputs. To understand basal ganglia function in motor control, it is important to reveal the precise synaptic organization of motor-related cortical and thalamic inputs to striatal PV interneurons. To examine which domains of the PV neurons receive these excitatory inputs, we used male bacterial artificial chromosome transgenic mice expressing somatodendritic membrane-targeted green fluorescent protein in PV neurons. An anterograde tracing study with the adeno-associated virus vector combined with immunodetection of pre- and postsynaptic markers visualized the distribution of the excitatory appositions on PV dendrites. Statistical analysis revealed that the density of thalamostriatal appositions along the dendrites was significantly higher on the proximal than distal dendrites. In contrast, there was no positional preference in the density of appositions from axons of the dorsofrontal cortex. Population observations of thalamostriatal and corticostriatal appositions by immunohistochemistry for pathway-specific vesicular glutamate transporters confirmed that thalamic inputs preferentially, and cortical ones less preferentially, made apposition on proximal dendrites of PV neurons. This axodendritic organization suggests that PV neurons produce fast and reliable inhibition of MSNs in response to thalamic inputs and process excitatory inputs from motor cortices locally and plastically, possibly together with other GABAergic and dopaminergic dendritic inputs, to modulate MSN inhibition.
Plastic changes in the CNS in response to peripheral sensory nerve injury are a series of complex processes, ranging from local circuit remodeling to somatotopic reorganization. However, the link between circuit remodeling and somatotopic reorganization remains unclear. We have previously reported that transection of the primary whisker sensory nerve causes the abnormal rewiring of lemniscal fibers (sensory afferents) on a neuron in the mouse whisker sensory thalamus (V2 VPM). In the present study, using transgenic mice whose lemniscal fibers originate from the whisker sensory principle trigeminal nucleus (PrV2) are specifically labeled, we identified that the transection induced retraction of PrV2-originating lemniscal fibers and invasion of those not originating from PrV2 in the V2 VPM. This anatomical remodeling with somatotopic reorganization was highly correlated with the rewiring of lemniscal fibers. Origins of the non-PrV2-origin lemniscal fibers in the V2 VPM included the mandibular subregion of trigeminal nuclei and the dorsal column nuclei (DCNs), which normally represent body parts other than whiskers. The transection also resulted in ectopic receptive fields of V2 VPM neurons and extraterritorial pain behavior on the uninjured mandibular region of the face. The anatomical remodeling, emergence of ectopic receptive fields, and extraterritorial pain behavior all concomitantly developed within a week and lasted more than three months after the transection. Our findings, thus, indicate a strong linkage between these plastic changes after peripheral sensory nerve injury, which may provide a neural circuit basis underlying large-scale reorganization of somatotopic representation and abnormal ectopic sensations.