Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Neuroscience and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research article

A transcription-dependent increase in miniature EPSC frequency accompanies late-phase plasticity in cultured hippocampal neurons

J Simon Wiegert12, Frank Hofmann13, Hilmar Bading1 and C Peter Bengtson1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Neurobiology, Interdisciplinary Center for Neurosciences, Im Neuenheimer Feld 364, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany

2 Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Maulbeerstr. 66, WRO-1066.4.10, CH-4058 Basel, Switzerland

3 Multi Channel Systems MCS GmbH, Aspenhaustrasse 21, 72770 Reutlingen, Germany

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Neuroscience 2009, 10:124  doi:10.1186/1471-2202-10-124

Published: 29 September 2009

Abstract

Background

The magnitude and longevity of synaptic activity-induced changes in synaptic efficacy is quantified by measuring evoked responses whose potentiation requires gene transcription to persist for more than 2-3 hours. While miniature EPSCs (mEPSCs) are also increased in amplitude and/or frequency during long-term potentiation (LTP), it is not known how long such changes persist or whether gene transcription is required.

Results

We use whole-cell patch clamp recordings from dissociated hippocampal cultures to characterise for the first time the persistence and transcription dependency of mEPSC upregulation during synaptic potentiation. The persistence of recurrent action potential bursting in these cultures is transcription-, translation- and NMDA receptor-dependent thus providing an accessible model for long-lasting plasticity. Blockade of GABAA-receptors with bicuculline for 15 minutes induced action potential bursting in all neurons and was maintained in 50-60% of neurons for more than 6 hours. Throughout this period, the frequency but neither the amplitude of mEPSCs nor whole-cell AMPA currents was markedly increased. The transcription blocker actinomycin D abrogated, within 2 hours of burst induction, both action potential bursting and the increase in mEPSCs. Reversible blockade of action potentials during, but not after this 2 hour transcription period suppressed the increase in mEPSC frequency and the recovery of burst activity at a time point 6 hours after induction.

Conclusion

These results indicate that increased mEPSC frequency persists well beyond the 2 hour transcription-independent phase of plasticity in this model. This long-lasting mEPSC upregulation is transcription-dependent and requires ongoing action potential activity during the initial 2 hour period but not thereafter. Thus mEPSC upregulation may underlie the long term, transcription-dependent persistence of action potential bursting. This provides mechanistic insight to link gene candidates already identified by gene chip analysis to long lasting plasticity in this in vitro model.