• An Improved Test for Detecting Multiplicative Homeostatic Synaptic Scaling

      Kim, Jimok; Tsien, Richard W.; Alger, Bradley E.; Institute of Molecular Medicine and Genetics; Graduate Program in Neuroscience; Department of Neurology (2012-05-17)
      Homeostatic scaling of synaptic strengths is essential for maintenance of network "gain", but also poses a risk of losing the distinctions among relative synaptic weights, which are possibly cellular correlates of memory storage. Multiplicative scaling of all synapses has been proposed as a mechanism that would preserve the relative weights among them, because they would all be proportionately adjusted. It is crucial for this hypothesis that all synapses be affected identically, but whether or not this actually occurs is difficult to determine directly. Mathematical tests for multiplicative synaptic scaling are presently carried out on distributions of miniature synaptic current amplitudes, but the accuracy of the test procedure has not been fully validated. We now show that the existence of an amplitude threshold for empirical detection of miniature synaptic currents limits the use of the most common method for detecting multiplicative changes. Our new method circumvents the problem by discarding the potentially distorting subthreshold values after computational scaling. This new method should be useful in assessing the underlying neurophysiological nature of a homeostatic synaptic scaling transformation, and therefore in evaluating its functional significance.
    • Mitochondrial BNIP3 upregulation precedes endonuclease G translocation in hippocampal neuronal death following oxygen-glucose deprivation.

      Zhao, Shen-Ting; Chen, Ming; Li, Shu-Ji; Zhang, Ming-Hai; Li, Bo-Xing; Das, Manas; Bean, Jonathan C; Kong, Ji-Ming; Zhu, Xin-Hong; Gao, Tian-Ming; et al. (2009-09-23)
      BACKGROUND: Caspase-independent apoptotic pathways are suggested as a mechanism for the delayed neuronal death following ischemic insult. However, the underlying signalling mechanisms are largely unknown. Recent studies imply the involvement of several mitochondrial proteins, including endonuclease G (EndoG) and Bcl-2/adenovirus E1B 19 kDa-interacting protein (BNIP3), in the pathway of non-neuronal cells. RESULTS: In this report, using western blot analysis and immunocytochemistry, we found that EndoG upregulates and translocates from mitochondria to nucleus in a time-dependent manner in cultured hippocampal neurons following oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD). Moreover, the translocation of EndoG occurs hours before the observable nuclear pyknosis. Importantly, the mitochondrial upregulation of BNIP3 precedes the translocation of EndoG. Forced expression of BNIP3 increases the nuclear translocation of EndoG and neuronal death while knockdown of BNIP3 decreases the OGD-induced nuclear translocation of EndoG and neuronal death. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that BNIP3 and EndoG play important roles in hippocampal neuronal apoptosis following ischemia, and mitochondrial BNIP3 is a signal protein upstream of EndoG that can induce neuronal death.