Nirao Shah, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
A neural circuit for male sexual behavior and reward.
Male sexual behavior is innate and rewarding. Despite its centrality to reproduction, a molecularly specified neural circuit governing innate male sexual behavior and reward remains to be characterized. We have discovered a developmentally wired neural circuit necessary and sufficient for male mating. This circuit connects chemosensory input to BNSTprTac1 neurons, which innervate POATacr1 neurons that project to centers regulating motor output and reward. Epistasis studies demonstrate that BNSTprTac1 neurons are upstream of POATacr1 neurons, and BNSTprTac1-released substance P following mate recognition potentiates activation of POATacr1 neurons through Tacr1 to initiate mating. Experimental activation of POATacr1 neurons triggers mating, even in sexually satiated males, and it is rewarding, eliciting dopamine release and self-stimulation of these cells. Together, we have uncovered a neural circuit that governs the key aspects of innate male sexual behavior: motor displays, drive, and reward.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2023.07.021
View details for PubMedID 37572660
Dichotomous regulation of striatal plasticity by dynorphin.
Modulation of corticostriatal plasticity alters the information flow throughout basal ganglia circuits and represents a fundamental mechanism for motor learning, action selection, and reward. Synaptic plasticity in the striatal direct- and indirect-pathway spiny projection neurons (dSPNs and iSPNs) is regulated by two distinct networks of GPCR signaling cascades. While it is well-known that dopamine D2 and adenosine A2a receptors bi-directionally regulate iSPN plasticity, it remains unclear how D1 signaling modulation of synaptic plasticity is counteracted by dSPN-specific Gi signaling. Here, we show that striatal dynorphin selectively suppresses long-term potentiation (LTP) through Kappa Opioid Receptor (KOR) signaling in dSPNs. Both KOR antagonism and conditional deletion of dynorphin in dSPNs enhance LTP counterbalancing with different levels of D1 receptor activation. Behaviorally, mice lacking dynorphin in D1 neurons show comparable motor behavior and reward-based learning, but enhanced flexibility during reversal learning. These findings support a model in which D1R and KOR signaling bi-directionally modulate synaptic plasticity and behavior in the direct pathway.
View details for DOI 10.1038/s41380-022-01885-0
View details for PubMedID 36460726
Ultrafast Two-Photon Imaging of a High-Gain Voltage Indicator in Awake Behaving Mice.
2019; 179 (7): 1590
Optical interrogation of voltage in deep brain locations with cellular resolution would be immensely useful for understanding how neuronal circuits process information. Here, we report ASAP3, a genetically encoded voltage indicator with 51% fluorescence modulation by physiological voltages, submillisecond activation kinetics, and full responsivity under two-photon excitation. We also introduce an ultrafast local volume excitation (ULoVE) method for kilohertz-rate two-photon sampling invivo with increased stability and sensitivity. Combining a soma-targeted ASAP3 variant and ULoVE, we show single-trial tracking ofspikes and subthreshold events for minutes in deep locations, with subcellular resolution and with repeated sampling over days. In the visual cortex, we use soma-targeted ASAP3 to illustrate cell-type-dependent subthreshold modulation by locomotion. Thus, ASAP3 and ULoVE enable high-speed optical recording of electrical activity in genetically defined neurons at deep locations during awake behavior.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2019.11.004
View details for PubMedID 31835034
Periodic Remodeling in a Neural Circuit Governs Timing of Female Sexual Behavior.
Behaviors are inextricably linked to internal state. We have identified a neural mechanism that links female sexual behavior with the estrus, the ovulatory phase of the estrous cycle. We find that progesterone-receptor (PR)-expressing neurons in the ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH) are active and required during this behavior. Activating these neurons, however, does not elicit sexual behavior in non-estrus females. We show that projections of PR+ VMH neurons to the anteroventral periventricular (AVPV) nucleus change across the 5-day mouse estrous cycle, with 3-fold more termini and functional connections during estrus. This cyclic increase in connectivity is found in adult females, but not males, and regulated by estrogen signaling in PR+ VMH neurons. We further show that these connections are essential for sexual behavior in receptive females. Thus, estrogen-regulated structural plasticity of behaviorally salient connections in the adult female brain links sexual behavior to the estrus phase of the estrous cycle.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cell.2019.10.025
View details for PubMedID 31735496
Selective activation of parvalbumin interneurons prevents stress-induced synapse loss and perceptual defects.
Stress, a prevalent experience in modern society, is a major risk factor for many psychiatric disorders. Although sensorimotor abnormalities are often present in these disorders, little is known about how stress affects the sensory cortex. Combining behavioral analyses with in vivo synaptic imaging, we show that stressful experiences lead to progressive, clustered loss of dendritic spines along the apical dendrites of layer (L) 5 pyramidal neurons (PNs) in the mouse barrel cortex, and such spine loss closely associates with deteriorated performance in a whisker-dependent texture discrimination task. Furthermore, the activity of parvalbumin-expressing inhibitory interneurons (PV+ INs) decreases in the stressed mouse due to reduced excitability of these neurons. Importantly, both behavioral defects and structural changes of L5 PNs are prevented by selective pharmacogenetic activation of PV+INs in the barrel cortex during stress. Finally, stressed mice raised under environmental enrichment (EE) maintain normal activation of PV+ INs, normal texture discrimination, and L5 PN spine dynamics similar to unstressed EE mice. Our findings suggest that the PV+ inhibitory circuit is crucial for normal synaptic dynamics in the mouse barrel cortex and sensory function. Pharmacological, pharmacogenetic and environmental approaches to prevent stress-induced maladaptive behaviors and synaptic malfunctions converge on the regulation of PV+ IN activity, pointing to a potential therapeutic target for stress-related disorders.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 1 August 2017; doi:10.1038/mp.2017.159.
View details for DOI 10.1038/mp.2017.159
View details for PubMedID 28761082
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5794672
SPD-2/CEP192 and CDK Are Limiting for Microtubule-Organizing Center Function at the Centrosome.
Current biology : CB
2015; 25 (14): 1924-31
The centrosome acts as the microtubule-organizing center (MTOC) during mitosis in animal cells. Microtubules are nucleated and anchored by γ-tubulin ring complexes (γ-TuRCs) embedded within the centrosome's pericentriolar material (PCM). The PCM is required for the localization of γ-TuRCs, and both are steadily recruited to the centrosome, culminating in a peak in MTOC function in metaphase. In differentiated cells, the centrosome is often attenuated as an MTOC and MTOC function is reassigned to non-centrosomal sites such as the apical membrane in epithelial cells, the nuclear envelope in skeletal muscle, and down the lengths of axons and dendrites in neurons. Hyperactive MTOC function at the centrosome is associated with epithelial cancers and with invasive behavior in tumor cells. Little is known about the mechanisms that limit MTOC activation at the centrosome. Here, we find that MTOC function at the centrosome is completely inactivated during cell differentiation in C. elegans embryonic intestinal cells and MTOC function is reassigned to the apical membrane. In cells that divide after differentiation, the cellular MTOC state switches between the membrane and the centrosome. Using cell fusion experiments in live embryos, we find that the centrosome MTOC state is dominant and that the inactive MTOC state of the centrosome is malleable; fusion of a mitotic cell to a differentiated or interphase cell results in rapid reactivation of the centrosome MTOC. We show that conversion of MTOC state involves the conserved centrosome protein SPD-2/CEP192 and CDK activity from the mitotic cell.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2015.06.001
View details for PubMedID 26119750
A Unique Plant ESCRT Component, FREE1, Regulates Multivesicular Body Protein Sorting and Plant Growth
2014; 24 (21): 2556–63
Tight control of membrane protein homeostasis by selective degradation is crucial for proper cell signaling and multicellular organismal development. Membrane proteins destined for degradation, such as misfolded proteins or activated receptors, are usually ubiquitinated and sorted into the intraluminal vesicles (ILVs) of prevacuolar compartments/multivesicular bodies (PVCs/MVBs), which then fuse with vacuoles/lysosomes to deliver their contents to the lumen for degradation by luminal proteases. The formation of ILVs and the sorting of ubiquitinated membrane cargoes into them are facilitated by the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery. Plants possess most evolutionarily conserved members of the ESCRT machinery but apparently lack orthologs of ESCRT-0 subunits and the ESCRT-I component Mvb12. Here, we identified a unique plant ESCRT component called FYVE domain protein required for endosomal sorting 1 (FREE1). FREE1 binds to phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PI3P) and ubiquitin and specifically interacts with Vps23 via PTAP-like tetrapeptide motifs to be incorporated into the ESCRT-I complex. Arabidopsis free1 mutant is seedling lethal and defective in the formation of ILVs in MVBs. Consequently, endocytosed plasma membrane (PM) proteins destined for degradation, such as the auxin efflux carrier PIN2, cannot reach the lumen of the vacuole and mislocalize to the tonoplast. Collectively, our findings provide the first functional characterization of a plant FYVE domain protein, which is essential for plant growth via its role as a unique evolutionary ESCRT component for MVB biogenesis and vacuolar sorting of membrane proteins.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.014
View details for Web of Science ID 000344171500027
View details for PubMedID 25438943