Davis Lab Publications

Homeostatic Signaling and the Stabilization of Neural Function

Davis GW

Neuron
2013 Oct 30; 80(3):718-28.

Abstract

The brain is astonishing in its complexity and capacity for change. This has fascinated scientists for more than a century, filling the pages of this journal for the past 25 years. But a paradigm shift is underway. It seems likely that the plasticity that drives our ability to learn and remember can only be meaningful in the context of otherwise stable, reproducible, and predictable baseline neural function. Without the existence of potent mechanisms that stabilize neural function, our capacity to learn and remember would be lost in the chaos of daily experiential change. This underscores two great mysteries in neuroscience. How are the functional properties of individual neurons and neural circuits stably maintained throughout life? And, in the face of potent stabilizing mechanisms, how can neural circuitry be modified during neural development, learning, and memory? Answers are emerging in the rapidly developing field of homeostatic plasticity.

Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

 

RIM Controls Homeostatic Plasticity through Modulation of the Readily-Releasable Vesicle Pool

Müller M, Liu KS, Sigrist SJ, Davis GW

Journal of Neuroscience 
2012 Nov 21; 32(47):16574-85

Abstract

Rab3 interacting molecules (RIMs) are evolutionarily conserved scaffolding proteins that are located at presynaptic active zones. In the mammalian nervous system, RIMs have two major activities that contribute to the fidelity of baseline synaptic transmission: they concentrate calcium channels at the active zone and facilitate synaptic vesicle docking/priming. Here we confirm that RIM has an evolutionarily conserved function at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction and then define a novel role for RIM during homeostatic synaptic plasticity. We show that loss of RIM disrupts baseline vesicle release, diminishes presynaptic calcium influx, and diminishes the size of the readily-releasable pool (RRP) of synaptic vesicles, consistent with known activities of RIM. However, loss of RIM also completely blocks the homeostatic enhancement of presynaptic neurotransmitter release that normally occurs after inhibition of postsynaptic glutamate receptors, a process termed synaptic homeostasis. It is established that synaptic homeostasis requires enhanced presynaptic calcium influx as a mechanism to potentiate vesicle release. However, despite a defect in baseline calcium influx in rim mutants, the homeostatic modulation of calcium influx proceeds normally. Synaptic homeostasis is also correlated with an increase in the size of the RRP of synaptic vesicles, although the mechanism remains unknown. Here we demonstrate that the homeostatic modulation of the RRP is blocked in the rim mutant background. Therefore, RIM-dependent modulation of the RRP is a required step during homeostatic plasticity. By extension, homeostatic plasticity appears to require two genetically separable processes, the enhancement of presynaptic calcium influx and a RIM-dependent modulation of the RRP.

 

Snapin is critical for presynaptic homeostatic plasticity

Dickman DK, Tong A, Davis GW

Journal of Neuroscience
2012 Jun 20; 32(25):8716-24

Abstract

The molecular mechanisms underlying the homeostatic modulation of presynaptic neurotransmitter release are largely unknown. We have previously used an electrophysiology-based forward genetic screen to assess the function of >400 neuronally expressed genes for a role in the homeostatic control of synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular junction of Drosophila melanogaster. This screen identified a critical function for dysbindin, a gene linked to schizophrenia in humans (Dickman and Davis, 2009). Biochemical studies in other systems have shown that Snapin interacts with Dysbindin, prompting us to test whether Snapin might be involved in the mechanisms of synaptic homeostasis. Here, we demonstrate that loss of snapin blocks the homeostatic modulation of presynaptic vesicle release following inhibition of postsynaptic glutamate receptors. This is true for both the rapid induction of synaptic homeostasis induced by pharmacological inhibition of postsynaptic glutamate receptors, and the long-term expression of synaptic homeostasis induced by the genetic deletion of the muscle-specific GluRIIA glutamate receptor subunit. Loss of snapin does not alter baseline synaptic transmission, synapse morphology, synapse growth, or the number or density of active zones, indicating that the block of synaptic homeostasis is not a secondary consequence of impaired synapse development. Additional genetic evidence suggests that snapin functions in concert with dysbindin to modulate vesicle release and possibly homeostatic plasticity. Finally, we provide genetic evidence that the interaction of Snapin with SNAP25, a component of the SNARE complex, is also involved in synaptic homeostasis.

 

Transsynaptic control of presynaptic Ca²? influx achieves homeostatic potentiation of neurotransmitter release

Müller M, Davis GW

Current Biology
2012 Jun 19; 22(12):1102-8.

Abstract

Given the complexity of the nervous system and its capacity for change, it is remarkable that robust, reproducible neural function and animal behavior can be achieved. It is now apparent that homeostatic signaling systems have evolved to stabilize neural function. At the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) of organisms ranging from Drosophila to human, inhibition of postsynaptic neurotransmitter receptor function causes a homeostatic increase in presynaptic release that precisely restores postsynaptic excitation. Here we address what occurs within the presynaptic terminal to achieve homeostatic potentiation of release at the Drosophila NMJ. By imaging presynaptic Ca(2+) transients evoked by single action potentials, we reveal a retrograde, transsynaptic modulation of presynaptic Ca(2+) influx that is sufficient to account for the rapid induction and sustained expression of the homeostatic change in vesicle release. We show that the homeostatic increase in Ca(2+) influx and release is blocked by a point mutation in the presynaptic CaV2.1 channel, demonstrating that the modulation of presynaptic Ca(2+) influx through this channel is causally required for homeostatic potentiation of release. Together with additional analyses, we establish that retrograde, transsynaptic modulation of presynaptic Ca(2+) influx through CaV2.1 channels is a key factor underlying the homeostatic regulation of neurotransmitter release.

 

Glial-derived prodegenerative signaling in the Drosophila neuromuscular system

Keller LC, Cheng L, Locke CJ, Müller M, Fetter RD, Davis GW

Neuron
2011 Dec 8; 72(5):760-75

Abstract

We provide evidence for a prodegenerative, glial-derived signaling framework in the Drosophila neuromuscular system that includes caspase and mitochondria-dependent signaling. We demonstrate that Drosophila TNF-α (eiger) is expressed in a subset of peripheral glia, and the TNF-α receptor (TNFR), Wengen, is expressed in motoneurons. NMJ degeneration caused by disruption of the spectrin/ankyrin skeleton is suppressed by an eiger mutation or by eiger knockdown within a subset of peripheral glia. Loss of wengen in motoneurons causes a similar suppression providing evidence for glial-derived prodegenerative TNF-α signaling. Neither JNK nor NFκβ is required for prodegenerative signaling. However, we provide evidence for the involvement of both an initiator and effector caspase, Dronc and Dcp-1, and mitochondrial-dependent signaling. Mutations that deplete the axon and nerve terminal of mitochondria suppress degeneration as do mutations in Drosophila Bcl-2 (debcl), a mitochondria-associated protein, and Apaf-1 (dark), which links mitochondrial signaling with caspase activity in other systems.

 

S6 kinase localizes to the presynaptic active zone and functions with PDK1 to control synapse development

Cheng L, Locke C, Davis GW

Journal of Cell Biology
2011 Sep 19; 194(6):921-35

Abstract

The dimensions of neuronal dendrites, axons, and synaptic terminals are reproducibly specified for each neuron type, yet it remains unknown how these structures acquire their precise dimensions of length and diameter. Similarly, it remains unknown how active zone number and synaptic strength are specified relative the precise dimensions of presynaptic boutons. In this paper, we demonstrate that S6 kinase (S6K) localizes to the presynaptic active zone. Specifically, S6K colocalizes with the presynaptic protein Bruchpilot (Brp) and requires Brp for active zone localization. We then provide evidence that S6K functions downstream of presynaptic PDK1 to control synaptic bouton size, active zone number, and synaptic function without influencing presynaptic bouton number. We further demonstrate that PDK1 is also a presynaptic protein, though it is distributed more broadly. We present a model in which synaptic S6K responds to local extracellular nutrient and growth factor signaling at the synapse to modulate developmental size specification, including cell size, bouton size, active zone number, and neurotransmitter release.

 

arouser reveals a role for synapse number in the regulation of ethanol sensitivity

Eddison M, Guarnieri DJ, Cheng L, Liu CH, Moffat KG, Davis G, Heberlein U.

Neuron
2011 Jun 9; 70(5):979-90

Abstract

A reduced sensitivity to the sedating effects of alcohol is a characteristic associated with alcohol use disorders (AUDs). A genetic screen for ethanol sedation mutants in Drosophila identified arouser (aru), which functions in developing neurons to reduce ethanol sensitivity. Genetic evidence suggests that aru regulates ethanol sensitivity through its activation by Egfr/Erk signaling and its inhibition by PI3K/Akt signaling. The aru mutant also has an increased number of synaptic terminals in the larva and adult fly. Both the increased ethanol sensitivity and synapse number of the aru mutant are restored upon adult social isolation, suggesting a causal relationship between synapse number and ethanol sensitivity. We thus show that a developmental abnormality affecting synapse number and ethanol sensitivity is not permanent and can be reversed by manipulating the environment of the adult fly.

 

Hts/Adducin controls synaptic elaboration and elimination.

Pielage J, Bulat V, Zuchero JB, Fetter RD, Davis GW

Neuron
2011 Mar 24; 69(6):1114-31.

Abstract

Neural development requires both synapse elaboration and elimination, yet relatively little is known about how these opposing activities are coordinated. Here, we provide evidence Hts/Adducin can serve this function. We show that Drosophila Hts/Adducin is enriched both pre- and postsynaptically at the NMJ. We then demonstrate that presynaptic Hts/Adducin is necessary and sufficient to control two opposing processes associated with synapse remodeling: (1) synapse stabilization as determined by light level and ultrastructural and electrophysiological assays and (2) the elaboration of actin-based, filopodia-like protrusions that drive synaptogenesis and growth. Synapse remodeling is sensitive to Hts/Adducin levels, and we provide evidence that the synaptic localization of Hts/Adducin is controlled via phosphorylation. Mechanistically, Drosophila Hts/Adducin protein has actin-capping activity. We propose that phosphorylation-dependent regulation of Hts/Adducin controls the level, localization, and activity of Hts/Adducin, influencing actin-based synapse elaboration and spectrin-based synapse stabilization. Hts/Adducin may define a mechanism to switch between synapse stability and dynamics.

 

Rab3-GAP controls the progression of synaptic homeostasis at a late stage of vesicle release.

Müller M, Pym EC, Tong A, Davis GW

Neuron
2011 Feb 24; 69(4):749-62.

Abstract

Homeostatic signaling systems stabilize neural function through the modulation of neurotransmitter receptor abundance, ion channel density, and presynaptic neurotransmitter release. Molecular mechanisms that drive these changes are being unveiled. In theory, molecular mechanisms may also exist to oppose the induction or expression of homeostatic plasticity, but these mechanisms have yet to be explored. In an ongoing electrophysiology-based genetic screen, we have tested 162 new mutations for genes involved in homeostatic signaling at the Drosophila NMJ. This screen identified a mutation in the rab3-GAP gene. We show that Rab3-GAP is necessary for the induction and expression of synaptic homeostasis. We then provide evidence that Rab3-GAP relieves an opposing influence on homeostasis that is catalyzed by Rab3 and which is independent of any change in NMJ anatomy. These data define roles for Rab3-GAP and Rab3 in synaptic homeostasis and uncover a mechanism, acting at a late stage of vesicle release, that opposes the progression of homeostatic plasticity.

 

Vesicle priming in a SNAP.

Müller M, Davis GW

Neuron
2010 Nov 4; 68(3):324-6.

Abstract

In this issue of Neuron, Burgalossi et al. investigate synaptic vesicle priming by using presynaptic Ca(2+) uncaging at a small, glutamatergic, central synapse. Combining this technique with mouse genetics, the authors demonstrate that vesicle priming during ongoing neural activity can be limited by the recycling of recently used SNARE complexes.

 

Synaptic homeostasis is consolidated by the cell fate gene gooseberry, a Drosophila pax3/7 homolog.

Marie B, Pym E, Bergquist S, Davis GW

Journal of Neuroscience
2010 Jun 16; 30(24):8071-82.

Abstract

In a large-scale screening effort, we identified the gene gooseberry (gsb) as being necessary for synaptic homeostasis at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. The gsb gene encodes a pair-rule transcription factor that participates in embryonic neuronal cell fate specification. Here, we define a new postembryonic role for gooseberry. We show that gsb becomes widely expressed in the postembryonic CNS, including within mature motoneurons. Loss of gsb does not alter neuromuscular growth, morphology, or the distribution of essential synaptic proteins. However, gsb function is required postembryonically for the sustained expression of synaptic homeostasis. In GluRIIA mutant animals, miniature EPSP (mEPSP) amplitudes are significantly decreased, and there is a compensatory homeostatic increase in presynaptic release that restores normal muscle excitation. Loss of gsb significantly impairs the homeostatic increase in presynaptic release in the GluRIIA mutant. Interestingly, gsb is not required for the rapid induction of synaptic homeostasis. Furthermore, gsb seems to be specifically involved in the mechanisms responsible for a homeostatic increase in presynaptic release, since it is not required for the homeostatic decrease in presynaptic release observed following an increase in mEPSP amplitude. Finally, Gsb has been shown to antagonize Wingless signaling during embryonic fate specification, and we present initial evidence that this activity is conserved during synaptic homeostasis. Thus, we have identified a gene (gsb) that distinguishes between rapid induction versus sustained expression of synaptic homeostasis and distinguishes between the mechanisms responsible for homeostatic increase versus decrease in synaptic vesicle release.

 

A hierarchy of cell intrinsic and target-derived homeostatic signaling.

Bergquist S, Dickman DK, Davis GW

Neuron
2010 Apr 29; 66(2):220-34.

Abstract

Homeostatic control of neural function can be mediated by the regulation of ion channel expression, neurotransmitter receptor abundance, or modulation of presynaptic release. These processes can be implemented through cell autonomous or intercellular signaling. It remains unknown whether different forms of homeostatic regulation can be coordinated to achieve constant neural function. One way to approach this question is to confront a simple neural system with conflicting perturbations and determine whether the outcome reflects a coordinated, homeostatic response. Here, we demonstrate that two A-type potassium channel genes, shal and shaker, are reciprocally, transcriptionally coupled to maintain A-type channel expression. We then demonstrate that this homeostatic control of A-type channel expression prevents target-dependent, homeostatic modulation of synaptic transmission. Thus, we uncover a homeostatic mechanism that reciprocally regulates A-type potassium channels, and we define a hierarchical relationship between cell-intrinsic control of ion channel expression and target-derived homeostatic control of synaptic transmission.

 

The schizophrenia susceptibility gene dysbindin controls synaptic homeostasis.

Dickman DK, Davis GW.

Science
2009 Nov 20; 326(5956):1127-30.

Abstract

The molecular mechanisms that achieve homeostatic stabilization of neural function remain largely unknown. To better understand how neural function is stabilized during development and throughout life, we used an electrophysiology-based forward genetic screen and assessed the function of more than 250 neuronally expressed genes for a role in the homeostatic modulation of synaptic transmission in Drosophila. This screen ruled out the involvement of numerous synaptic proteins and identified a critical function for dysbindin, a gene linked to schizophrenia in humans. We found that dysbindin is required presynaptically for the retrograde, homeostatic modulation of neurotransmission, and functions in a dose-dependent manner downstream or independently of calcium influx. Thus, dysbindin is essential for adaptive neural plasticity and may link altered homeostatic signaling with a complex neurological disease.

 

Molecular mechanisms that enhance synapse stability despite persistent disruption of the spectrin/ankyrin/microtubule cytoskeleton.

Massaro CM, Pielage J, Davis GW.

Journal of Cell Biology
2009 Oct 5; 187(1):101-17.

Abstract

Loss of spectrin or ankyrin in the presynaptic motoneuron disrupts the synaptic microtubule cytoskeleton and leads to disassembly of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Here, we demonstrate that NMJ disassembly after loss of alpha-spectrin can be suppressed by expression of a Wld(S) transgene, providing evidence for a Wallerian-type degenerative mechanism. We then identify a second signaling system. Enhanced MAPK-JNK-Fos signaling suppresses NMJ disassembly despite loss of presynaptic alpha-spectrin or ankyrin2-L. This signaling system is activated after an acute cytoskeletal disruption, suggesting an endogenous role during neurological stress. This signaling system also includes delayed, negative feedback via the JNK phosphatase puckered, which inhibits JNK-Fos to allow NMJ disassembly in the presence of persistent cytoskeletal stress. Finally, the MAPK-JNK pathway is not required for baseline NMJ stabilization during normal NMJ growth. We present a model in which signaling via JNK-Fos functions as a stress response system that is transiently activated after cytoskeletal disruption to enhance NMJ stability, and is then shut off allowing NMJ disassembly during persistent cytoskeletal disruption.

 

Negative regulation of active zone assembly by a newly identified SR protein kinase.

Johnson EL 3rd, Fetter RD, Davis GW

PLoS Biology
2009 Sep; 7(9):e1000193.

Abstract

Presynaptic, electron-dense, cytoplasmic protrusions such as the T-bar (Drosophila) or ribbon (vertebrates) are believed to facilitate vesicle movement to the active zone (AZ) of synapses throughout the nervous system. The molecular composition of these structures including the T-bar and ribbon are largely unknown, as are the mechanisms that specify their synapse-specific assembly and distribution. In a large-scale, forward genetic screen, we have identified a mutation termed air traffic controller (atc) that causes T-bar-like protein aggregates to form abnormally in motoneuron axons. This mutation disrupts a gene that encodes for a serine-arginine protein kinase (SRPK79D). This mutant phenotype is specific to SRPK79D and is not secondary to impaired kinesin-dependent axonal transport. The srpk79D gene is neuronally expressed, and transgenic rescue experiments are consistent with SRPK79D kinase activity being necessary in neurons. The SRPK79D protein colocalizes with the T-bar-associated protein Bruchpilot (Brp) in both the axon and synapse. We propose that SRPK79D is a novel T-bar-associated protein kinase that represses T-bar assembly in peripheral axons, and that SRPK79D-dependent repression must be relieved to facilitate site-specific AZ assembly. Consistent with this model, overexpression of SRPK79D disrupts AZ-specific Brp organization and significantly impairs presynaptic neurotransmitter release. These data identify a novel AZ-associated protein kinase and reveal a new mechanism of negative regulation involved in AZ assembly. This mechanism could contribute to the speed and specificity with which AZs are assembled throughout the nervous system.

 

A presynaptic homeostatic signaling system composed of the Eph receptor, ephexin, Cdc42, and CaV2.1 calcium channels.

Frank CA, Pielage J, Davis GW

Neuron
2009 Feb 26; 61(4):556-69.

Abstract

The molecular mechanisms underlying the homeostatic modulation of presynaptic neurotransmitter release remain largely unknown. In a screen, we isolated mutations in Drosophila ephexin (Rho-type guanine nucleotide exchange factor) that disrupt the homeostatic enhancement of presynaptic release following impairment of postsynaptic glutamate receptor function at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. We show that Ephexin is sufficient presynaptically for synaptic homeostasis and localizes in puncta throughout the nerve terminal. However, ephexin mutations do not alter other aspects of neuromuscular development, including morphology or active zone number. We then show that, during synaptic homeostasis, Ephexin functions primarily with Cdc42 in a signaling system that converges upon the presynaptic CaV2.1 calcium channel. Finally, we show that Ephexin binds the Drosophila Eph receptor (Eph) and Eph mutants disrupt synaptic homeostasis. Based on these data, we propose that Ephexin/Cdc42 couples synaptic Eph signaling to the modulation of presynaptic CaV2.1 channels during the homeostatic enhancement of presynaptic release.

 

Formin-dependent synaptic growth: evidence that Dlar signals via Diaphanous to modulate synaptic actin and dynamic pioneer microtubules.

Pawson C, Eaton BA, Davis GW

Journal of Neuroscience
2008 Oct 29; 28(44):11111-23.

Abstract

The diaphanous gene is the founding member of a family of Diaphanous-related formin proteins (DRFs). We identified diaphanous in a screen for genes that are necessary for the normal growth and stabilization of the Drosophila neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Here, we demonstrate that diaphanous mutations perturb synaptic growth at the NMJ. Diaphanous protein is present both presynaptically and postsynaptically. However, genetic rescue experiments in combination with additional genetic interaction experiments support the conclusion that dia is necessary presynaptically for normal NMJ growth. We then document defects in both the actin and microtubule cytoskeletons in dia mutant nerve terminals. In so doing, we define and characterize a population of dynamic pioneer microtubules within the NMJ that are distinct from the bundled core of microtubules identified by the MAP1b-like protein Futsch. Defects in both synaptic actin and dynamic pioneer microtubules are correlated with impaired synaptic growth in dia mutants. Finally, we present genetic evidence that Dia functions downstream of the presynaptic receptor tyrosine phosphatase Dlar and the Rho-type GEF (guanine nucleotide exchange factor) trio to control NMJ growth. Based on the established function of DRFs as Rho-GTPase-dependent regulators of the cell cytoskeleton, we propose a model in which Diaphanous links receptor tyrosine phosphatase signaling at the plasma membrane to growth-dependent modulation of the synaptic actin and microtubule cytoskeletons.

 

A presynaptic giant ankyrin stabilizes the NMJ through regulation of presynaptic microtubules and transsynaptic cell adhesion.

Pielage J, Cheng L, Fetter RD, Carlton PM, Sedat JW, Davis GW.

Neuron
2008 Apr 24; 58(2):195-209.

Abstract

In a forward genetic screen for mutations that destabilize the neuromuscular junction, we identified a novel long isoform of Drosophila ankyrin2 (ank2-L). We demonstrate that loss of presynaptic Ank2-L not only causes synapse disassembly and retraction but also disrupts neuronal excitability and NMJ morphology. We provide genetic evidence that ank2-L is necessary to generate the membrane constrictions that normally separate individual synaptic boutons and is necessary to achieve the normal spacing of subsynaptic protein domains, including the normal organization of synaptic cell adhesion molecules. Mechanistically, synapse organization is correlated with a lattice-like organization of Ank2-L, visualized using extended high-resolution structured-illumination microscopy. The stabilizing functions of Ank2-L can be mapped to the extended C-terminal domain that we demonstrate can directly bind and organize synaptic microtubules. We propose that a presynaptic Ank2-L lattice links synaptic membrane proteins and spectrin to the underlying microtubule cytoskeleton to organize and stabilize the presynaptic terminal.

 

Clathrin dependence of synaptic-vesicle formation at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction.

Heerssen H, Fetter RD, Davis GW.

Current Biology
2008 Mar 25; 18(6):401-9.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Among the most prominent molecular constituents of a recycling synaptic vesicle is the clathrin triskelion, composed of clathrin light chain (Clc) and clathrin heavy chain (Chc). Remarkably, it remains unknown whether clathrin is strictly necessary for the stimulus-dependent re-formation of a synaptic vesicle and, conversely, whether clathrin-independent vesicle endocytosis exists at the neuronal synapse.

RESULTS:

We employ FlAsH-FALI-mediated protein photoinactivation to rapidly (3 min) and specifically disrupt Clc function at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. We first demonstrate that Clc photoinactivation does not impair synaptic-vesicle fusion. We then provide electrophysiological and ultrastructural evidence that synaptic vesicles, once fused with the plasma membrane, cannot be re-formed after Clc photoinactivation. Finally, we demonstrate that stimulus-dependent membrane internalization occurs after Clc photoinactivation. However, newly internalized membrane fails to resolve into synaptic vesicles. Rather, newly internalized membrane forms large and extensive internal-membrane compartments that are never observed at a wild-type synapse.

CONCLUSIONS:

We make three major conclusions. (1) FlAsH-FALI-mediated protein photoinactivation rapidly and specifically disrupts Clc function with no effect on synaptic-vesicle fusion. (2) Synaptic-vesicle re-formation does not occur after Clc photoinactivation. By extension, clathrin-independent "kiss-and-run" endocytosis does not sustain synaptic transmission during a stimulus train at this synapse. (3) Stimulus-dependent, clathrin-independent membrane internalization exists at this synapse, but it is unable to generate fusion-competent, small-diameter synaptic vesicles.

 

The BMP ligand Gbb gates the expression of synaptic homeostasis independent of synaptic growth control.

Goold CP, Davis GW.

Neuron.
2007 Oct 4; 56(1):109-23.

Abstract

Inhibition of postsynaptic glutamate receptors at the Drosophila NMJ initiates a compensatory increase in presynaptic release termed synaptic homeostasis. BMP signaling is necessary for normal synaptic growth and stability. It remains unknown whether BMPs have a specific role during synaptic homeostasis and, if so, whether BMP signaling functions as an instructive retrograde signal that directly modulates presynaptic transmitter release. Here, we demonstrate that the BMP receptor (Wit) and ligand (Gbb) are necessary for the rapid induction of synaptic homeostasis. We also provide evidence that both Wit and Gbb have functions during synaptic homeostasis that are separable from NMJ growth. However, further genetic experiments demonstrate that Gbb does not function as an instructive retrograde signal during synaptic homeostasis. Rather, our data indicate that Wit and Gbb function via the downstream transcription factor Mad and that Mad-mediated signaling is continuously required during development to confer competence of motoneurons to express synaptic homeostasis.

 

NF-kappaB, IkappaB, and IRAK control glutamate receptor density at the Drosophila NMJ.

Heckscher ES, Fetter RD, Marek KW, Albin SD, Davis GW.

Neuron
2007 Sep 20; 55(6):859-73.

Abstract

NF-kappaB signaling has been implicated in neurodegenerative disease, epilepsy, and neuronal plasticity. However, the cellular and molecular activity of NF-kappaB signaling within the nervous system remains to be clearly defined. Here, we show that the NF-kappaB and IkappaB homologs Dorsal and Cactus surround postsynaptic glutamate receptor (GluR) clusters at the Drosophila NMJ. We then show that mutations in dorsal, cactus, and IRAK/pelle kinase specifically impair GluR levels, assayed immunohistochemically and electrophysiologically, without affecting NMJ growth, the size of the postsynaptic density, or homeostatic plasticity. Additional genetic experiments support the conclusion that cactus functions in concert with, rather than in opposition to, dorsal and pelle in this process. Finally, we provide evidence that Dorsal and Cactus act posttranscriptionally, outside the nucleus, to control GluR density. Based upon our data we speculate that Dorsal, Cactus, and Pelle could function together, locally at the postsynaptic density, to specify GluR levels.

 

Mechanisms underlying the rapid induction and sustained expression of synaptic homeostasis.

Frank CA, Kennedy MJ, Goold CP, Marek KW, Davis GW

Neuron
2006 Nov 22; 52(4):663-77.

Abstract

Homeostatic signaling systems are thought to interface with the mechanisms of neural plasticity to achieve stable yet flexible neural circuitry. However, the time course, molecular design, and implementation of homeostatic signaling remain poorly defined. Here we demonstrate that a homeostatic increase in presynaptic neurotransmitter release can be induced within minutes following postsynaptic glutamate receptor blockade. The rapid induction of synaptic homeostasis is independent of new protein synthesis and does not require evoked neurotransmission, indicating that a change in the efficacy of spontaneous quantal release events is sufficient to trigger the induction of synaptic homeostasis. Finally, both the rapid induction and the sustained expression of synaptic homeostasis are blocked by mutations that disrupt the pore-forming subunit of the presynaptic Ca(V)2.1 calcium channel encoded by cacophony. These data confirm the presynaptic expression of synaptic homeostasis and implicate presynaptic Ca(V)2.1 in a homeostatic retrograde signaling system.

 

A postsynaptic spectrin scaffold defines active zone size, spacing, and efficacy at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction.

Pielage J, Fetter RD, Davis GW.

Journal of Cell Biology
2006 Nov 6; 175(3):491-503.

Abstract

Synaptic connections are established with characteristic, cell type-specific size and spacing. In this study, we document a role for the postsynaptic Spectrin skeleton in this process. We use transgenic double-stranded RNA to selectively eliminate alpha-Spectrin, beta-Spectrin, or Ankyrin. In the absence of postsynaptic alpha- or beta-Spectrin, active zone size is increased and spacing is perturbed. In addition, subsynaptic muscle membranes are significantly altered. However, despite these changes, the subdivision of the synapse into active zone and periactive zone domains remains intact, both pre- and postsynaptically. Functionally, altered active zone dimensions correlate with an increase in quantal size without a change in presynaptic vesicle size. Mechanistically, beta-Spectrin is required for the localization of alpha-Spectrin and Ankyrin to the postsynaptic membrane. Although Ankyrin is not required for the localization of the Spectrin skeleton to the neuromuscular junction, it contributes to Spectrin-mediated synapse development. We propose a model in which a postsynaptic Spectrin-actin lattice acts as an organizing scaffold upon which pre- and postsynaptic development are arranged.

 

Discrete residues in the c(2)b domain of synaptotagmin I independently specify endocytic rate and synaptic vesicle size.

Poskanzer KE, Fetter RD, Davis GW.

Neuron
2006 Apr 6; 50(1):49-62.

Abstract

It has been demonstrated that synapses lacking functional synaptotagmin I (Syt I) have a decreased rate of synaptic vesicle endocytosis. Beyond this, the function of Syt I during endocytosis remains undefined. Here, we demonstrate that a decreased rate of endocytosis in syt(null) mutants correlates with a stimulus-dependent perturbation of membrane internalization, assayed ultrastructurally. We then separate the mechanisms that control endocytic rate and vesicle size by mapping these processes to discrete residues in the Syt I C(2)B domain. Mutation of a poly-lysine motif alters vesicle size but not endocytic rate, whereas the mutation of calcium-coordinating aspartate residues (syt-D3,4N) alters endocytic rate but not vesicle size. Finally, slowed endocytic rate in the syt-D3,4N animals, but not syt(null) animals, can be rescued by elevating extracellular calcium concentration, supporting the conclusion that calcium coordination within the C(2)B domain contributes to the control of endocytic rate.

 

Homeostatic control of neural activity: from phenomenology to molecular design.

Davis GW

Annual Review of Neuroscience
2006; 29:307-23.

Abstract

Homeostasis is a specialized form of regulation that precisely maintains the function of a system at a set point level of activity. Recently, homeostatic signaling has been suggested to control neural activity through the modulation of synaptic efficacy and membrane excitability ( Davis & Goodman 1998a, Turrigiano & Nelson 2000, Marder & Prinz 2002, Perez-Otano & Ehlers 2005 ). In this way, homeostatic signaling is thought to constrain neural plasticity and contribute to the stability of neural function over time. Using a restrictive definition of homeostasis, this review first evaluates the phenomenological and molecular evidence for homeostatic signaling in the nervous system. Then, basic principles underlying the design and molecular implementation of homeostatic signaling are reviewed on the basis of work in other, simplified biological systems such as bacterial chemotaxis and the heat shock response. Data from these systems are then discussed in the context of homeostatic signaling in the nervous system.

 

LIM Kinase1 controls synaptic stability downstream of the type II BMP receptor.

Eaton BA, Davis GW

Neuron
2005 Sep 1; 47(5):695-708.

Abstract

Here, we demonstrate that the BMP receptor Wishful Thinking (Wit) is required for synapse stabilization. In the absence of BMP signaling, synapse disassembly and retraction ensue. Remarkably, downstream Smad-mediated signaling cannot fully account for the stabilizing activity of the BMP receptor. We identify LIM Kinase1 (DLIMK1)-dependent signaling as a second, parallel pathway that confers the added synapse-stabilizing activity of the BMP receptor. We show that DLIMK1 binds a region of the Wit receptor that is necessary for synaptic stability but is dispensable for Smad-mediated synaptic growth. A genetic analysis demonstrates that DLIMK1 is necessary, presynaptically, for synapse stabilization, but is not necessary for normal synaptic growth or function. Furthermore, presynaptic expression of DLIMK1 in a wit or mad mutant significantly rescues synaptic stability, growth, and function. DLIMK1 localizes near synaptic microtubules and functions independently of ADF/cofilin, highlighting a novel requirement for DLIMK1 during synapse stabilization rather than actin-dependent axon outgrowth.

 

Presynaptic spectrin is essential for synapse stabilization.

Pielage J, Fetter RD, Davis GW.

Current Biology
2005 May 24; 15(10):918-28.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Precise neural circuitry is established and maintained through a regulated balance of synapse stabilization and disassembly. Currently, little is known about the molecular mechanisms that specify synapse stability versus disassembly.

RESULTS:

Here, we demonstrate that presynaptic spectrin is an essential scaffold that is required to maintain synapse stability at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Loss of presynaptic spectrin leads to synapse disassembly and ultimately to the elimination of the NMJ. Synapse elimination is documented through light-level, ultrastructural, and electrophysiological assays. These combined assays reveal that impaired neurotransmission is secondary to synapse retraction. We demonstrate that loss of presynaptic, but not postsynaptic, spectrin leads to the disorganization and elimination of essential synaptic cell-adhesion molecules. In addition, we provide evidence of altered axonal transport and disrupted synaptic microtubules as events that contribute to synapse retraction in animals lacking presynaptic spectrin.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our data suggest that presynaptic spectrin functions as an essential presynaptic scaffold that may link synaptic cell adhesion with the stabilization of the underlying microtubule cytoskeleton.

 

Mobilization and fusion of a non-recycling pool of synaptic vesicles under conditions of endocytic blockade.

Poskanzer KE, Davis GW

Neuropharmacology
2004 Oct; 47(5):714-23.

Abstract

At vertebrate central synapses, it has been demonstrated that a resting pool of synaptic vesicles (SVs) exists that normally does not participate in SV release and recycling. It remains unclear whether SVs within the resting pool are capable of mobilization and fusion. Here, we combine live imaging of SV exo- and endocytosis using pH-sensitive GFP (synapto-pHluorins) with pharmacological and genetic manipulations of the SV cycle at the Drosophila NMJ. We demonstrate that a resting pool of SVs exists at this synapse that encompasses 30-41% of the total SV pool. Under conditions of endocytic blockade, using a temperature-sensitive dynamin mutation, the resting pool of SVs can be mobilized and released. We present a model for the presence of a resting pool of SVs that does not require molecular specification of a subpopulation of SVs.