Honors & Awards
Outstanding Master Thesis, Freundeskreis der Technischen Universität Kaiserslautern (2017)
Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations
Co-founder, Member, Young German Neuroscience Society (2019 - Present)
Member, German Neuroscience Society (2019 - Present)
Member, Association for Research in Otolaryngology (2022 - Present)
Ph.D, University of Kaiserslautern (2021)
M.Sc., University of Kaiserslautern, Molecular Cell Biology and Neurobiology (2017)
B.Sc., University of Kaiserslautern, Biological Sciences (2015)
Robert Jackler, Postdoctoral Research Mentor
Stefan Heller, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Glycinergic Transmission in the Presence and Absence of Functional GlyT2: Lessons From the Auditory Brainstem.
Frontiers in synaptic neuroscience
2020; 12: 560008
Synaptic transmission is controlled by re-uptake systems that reduce transmitter concentrations in the synaptic cleft and recycle the transmitter into presynaptic terminals. The re-uptake systems are thought to ensure cytosolic concentrations in the terminals that are sufficient for reloading empty synaptic vesicles (SVs). Genetic deletion of glycine transporter 2 (GlyT2) results in severely disrupted inhibitory neurotransmission and ultimately to death. Here we investigated the role of GlyT2 at inhibitory glycinergic synapses in the mammalian auditory brainstem. These synapses are tuned for resilience, reliability, and precision, even during sustained high-frequency stimulation when endocytosis and refilling of SVs probably contribute substantially to efficient replenishment of the readily releasable pool (RRP). Such robust synapses are formed between MNTB and LSO neurons (medial nucleus of the trapezoid body, lateral superior olive). By means of patch-clamp recordings, we assessed the synaptic performance in controls, in GlyT2 knockout mice (KOs), and upon acute pharmacological GlyT2 blockade. Via computational modeling, we calculated the reoccupation rate of empty release sites and RRP replenishment kinetics during 60-s challenge and 60-s recovery periods. Control MNTB-LSO inputs maintained high fidelity neurotransmission at 50 Hz for 60 s and recovered very efficiently from synaptic depression. During 'marathon-experiments' (30,600 stimuli in 20 min), RRP replenishment accumulated to 1,260-fold. In contrast, KO inputs featured severe impairments. For example, the input number was reduced to ~1 (vs. ~4 in controls), implying massive functional degeneration of the MNTB-LSO microcircuit and a role of GlyT2 during synapse maturation. Surprisingly, neurotransmission did not collapse completely in KOs as inputs still replenished their small RRP 80-fold upon 50 Hz | 60 s challenge. However, they totally failed to do so for extended periods. Upon acute pharmacological GlyT2 inactivation, synaptic performance remained robust, in stark contrast to KOs. RRP replenishment was 865-fold in marathon-experiments, only ~1/3 lower than in controls. Collectively, our empirical and modeling results demonstrate that GlyT2 re-uptake activity is not the dominant factor in the SV recycling pathway that imparts indefatigability to MNTB-LSO synapses. We postulate that additional glycine sources, possibly the antiporter Asc-1, contribute to RRP replenishment at these high-fidelity brainstem synapses.
View details for DOI 10.3389/fnsyn.2020.560008
View details for PubMedID 33633558
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7900164
Topographic map refinement and synaptic strengthening of a sound localization circuit require spontaneous peripheral activity.
The Journal of physiology
2019; 597 (22): 5469-5493
Loss of the calcium sensor otoferlin disrupts neurotransmission from inner hair cells. Central auditory nuclei are functionally denervated in otoferlin knockout mice (Otof KOs) via gene ablation confined to the periphery. We employed juvenile and young adult Otof KO mice (postnatal days (P)10-12 and P27-49) as a model for lacking spontaneous activity and deafness, respectively. We studied the impact of peripheral activity on synaptic refinement in the sound localization circuit from the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) to the lateral superior olive (LSO). MNTB in vivo recordings demonstrated drastically reduced spontaneous spiking and deafness in Otof KOs. Juvenile KOs showed impaired synapse elimination and strengthening, manifested by broader MNTB-LSO inputs, imprecise MNTB-LSO topography and weaker MNTB-LSO fibres. The impairments persisted into young adulthood. Further functional refinement after hearing onset was undetected in young adult wild-types. Collectively, activity deprivation confined to peripheral protein loss impairs functional MNTB-LSO refinement during a critical prehearing period.Circuit refinement is critical for the developing sound localization pathways in the auditory brainstem. In prehearing mice (hearing onset around postnatal day (P)12), spontaneous activity propagates from the periphery to central auditory nuclei. At the glycinergic projection from the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) to the lateral superior olive (LSO) of neonatal mice, super-numerous MNTB fibres innervate a given LSO neuron. Between P4 and P9, MNTB fibres are functionally eliminated, whereas the remaining fibres are strengthened. Little is known about MNTB-LSO circuit refinement after P20. Moreover, MNTB-LSO refinement upon activity deprivation confined to the periphery is largely unexplored. This leaves a considerable knowledge gap, as deprivation often occurs in patients with congenital deafness, e.g. upon mutations in the otoferlin gene (OTOF). Here, we analysed juvenile (P10-12) and young adult (P27-49) otoferlin knockout (Otof KO) mice with respect to MNTB-LSO refinement. MNTB in vivo recordings revealed drastically reduced spontaneous activity and deafness in knockouts (KOs), confirming deprivation. As RNA sequencing revealed Otof absence in the MNTB and LSO of wild-types, Otof loss in KOs is specific to the periphery. Functional denervation impaired MNTB-LSO synapse elimination and strengthening, which was assessed by glutamate uncaging and electrical stimulation. Impaired elimination led to imprecise MNTB-LSO topography. Impaired strengthening was associated with lower quantal content per MNTB fibre. In young adult KOs, the MNTB-LSO circuit remained unrefined. Further functional refinement after P12 appeared absent in wild-types. Collectively, we provide novel insights into functional MNTB-LSO circuit maturation governed by a cochlea-specific protein. The central malfunctions in Otof KOs may have implications for patients with sensorineuronal hearing loss.
View details for DOI 10.1113/JP277757
View details for PubMedID 31529505
GABA is a modulator, rather than a classical transmitter, in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body-lateral superior olive sound localization circuit.
The Journal of physiology
2019; 597 (8): 2269-2295
The lateral superior olive (LSO), a brainstem hub involved in sound localization, integrates excitatory and inhibitory inputs from the ipsilateral and the contralateral ear, respectively. In gerbils and rats, inhibition to the LSO reportedly shifts from GABAergic to glycinergic within the first three postnatal weeks. Surprisingly, we found no evidence for synaptic GABA signalling during this time window in mouse LSO principal neurons. However, we found that presynaptic GABAB Rs modulate Ca2+ influx into medial nucleus of the trapezoid body axon terminals, resulting in reduced synaptic strength. Moreover, GABA elicited strong responses in LSO neurons that were mediated by extrasynaptic GABAA Rs. RNA sequencing revealed highly abundant δ subunits, which are characteristic of extrasynaptic receptors. Whereas GABA increased the excitability of neonatal LSO neurons, it reduced the excitability around hearing onset. Collectively, GABA appears to control the excitability of mouse LSO neurons via extrasynaptic and presynaptic signalling. Thus, GABA acts as a modulator, rather than as a classical transmitter.GABA and glycine mediate fast inhibitory neurotransmission and are coreleased at several synapse types. Here we assessed the contribution of GABA and glycine in synaptic transmission between the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) and the lateral superior olive (LSO), two nuclei involved in sound localization. Whole-cell patch-clamp experiments in acute mouse brainstem slices at postnatal days (P) 4 and 11 during pharmacological blockade of GABAA receptors (GABAA Rs) and/or glycine receptors demonstrated no GABAergic synaptic component on LSO principal neurons. A GABAergic component was absent in evoked inhibitory postsynaptic currents and miniature events. Coimmunofluorescence experiments revealed no codistribution of the presynaptic GABAergic marker GAD65/67 with gephyrin, a postsynaptic marker for GABAA Rs, corroborating the conclusion that GABA does not act synaptically in the mouse LSO. Imaging experiments revealed reduced Ca2+ influx into MNTB axon terminals following activation of presynaptic GABAB Rs. GABAB R activation reduced the synaptic strength at P4 and P11. GABA appears to act on extrasynaptic GABAA Rs as demonstrated by application of 4,5,6,7-tetrahydroisoxazolo[5,4-c]pyridin-3-ol, a δ-subunit-specific GABAA R agonist. RNA sequencing showed high mRNA levels for the δ-subunit in the LSO. Moreover, GABA transporters GAT-1 and GAT-3 appear to control extracellular GABA. Finally, we show an age-dependent effect of GABA on the excitability of LSO neurons. Whereas tonic GABA increased the excitability at P4, leading to spike facilitation, it decreased the excitability at P11 via shunting inhibition through extrasynaptic GABAA Rs. Taken together, we demonstrate a modulatory role of GABA in the murine LSO, rather than a function as a classical synaptic transmitter.
View details for DOI 10.1113/JP277566
View details for PubMedID 30776090
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC6462465