Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

A certain type of neurons is more energy efficient than previously assumed

16.03.2018

Ion channels in interneurons are tuned for rapid and energy efficient signalling │Publication in Neuron

Theory and reality don’t always match completely. One contradiction, about how a type of neurons generates signals, was now resolved by researchers at the Institute of Science and Technology (IST) Austria. Writing in Neuron, Professor Peter Jonas and first author Hua Hu (previously postdoc at IST Austria, now Associate Professor in University of Oslo) reconcile the observation that fast-spiking, parvalbumin-expressing GABAergic interneurons (PV+-BCs) send trains of rapid signals, thought to be energy expensive, with the limited energy supply reaching the brain. They show that ion channels in the neuron are tuned so, that rapid signals are energy efficient.


A GABAergic interneuron studied by the researchers. Color code indicates energy efficiency of the neuron.

Peter Jonas

PV+-BCs are important in higher microcircuit functions, such as pattern separation, i.e. making similar patterns of neural activity more distinct, so we can distinguish between similar experiences. Previously, Jonas and Hu showed that the fast signalling achieved by these neurons is key to fulfil these microcircuit functions. PV+-BCs neurons generate high-frequency salvos of very brief action potentials (APs), or nerve impulses.

Short APs are considered energy expensive, as the fluxes of sodium (Na+) and potassium (K+) ions involved are thought to overlap in time. In an action potential, Na+- and K+-gated ion channels in the neuron open and close. Na+ channels open at the beginning of the AP, allowing Na+ to move into the axon, which causes depolarization. Repolarization of the membrane occurs when K+ channels open and K+ moves out of the axon.

The AP travels down the axon towards the axon terminal, where it signals to other neurons via the synapse. The ion fluxes during APs dissipate ion gradients, and energy is needed to re-establish these gradients. During short APs such as those in PV+-BCs neurons, Na+ and K+ fluxes are thought to extensively overlap. Such ion fluxes in opposite direction do not contribute to the actual AP, but nevertheless take energy to reverse.

The combination of short spikes and their high frequency in PV+-BCs neurons could pose a major challenge to the brain’s energy budget. Jonas and Hu investigated how the signalling properties of PV+-BCs neurons can be reconciled with the limited energy supply to the brain. Surprisingly, this theoretical contradiction does not translate to reality. “Scientists always tend to be disappointed when theory and experiment do not match. But this project is a beautiful example that we can learn much more from mismatches than from perfect agreements”, says Peter Jonas.

Studying functioning neurons is the only way to obtain the desired information, and the researchers therefore used brain slices to examine the axon of firing PV+-BCs, where APs are initiated and propagate. To obtain direct information from the axon, they used a technique called subcellular patch-clamp recording, or “nanophysiology”. They found that the energy required to generate the characteristic APs is only 1.6 times the theoretical minimum. Thus, APs in PV+-BCs are surprising energy efficient.

How can PV+-BCs neurons be energy efficient, but still signal rapidly? Hu and Jonas found that the specialized ion channels in PV+-BCs neurons are gated to optimize both fast signalling and energy efficiency. Na+ channels in PV+-BCs axons are inactivated very rapidly, while the Kv3-type K+ channels are activated with a delay. This complementary tuning minimizes the overlap between Na+ and K+ currents during brief APs and optimizes signalling, so that it is both fast and energy efficient. “Making the model increasingly more realistic, we found that fast signalling and high energy efficiency can be reconciled. This resolves a major contradiction”, Peter Jonas explains. Knowledge gained from such live recordings will help to further refine models of neuronal signalling and to better understand mechanisms underlying brain diseases.

About IST Austria – www.ist.ac.at

The Institute of Science and Technology (IST Austria) is a PhD-granting research institution located in Klosterneuburg, 18 km from the center of Vienna, Austria. Inaugurated in 2009, the Institute is dedicated to basic research in the natural and mathematical sciences. IST Austria employs professors on a tenure-track system, postdoctoral fellows, and doctoral students. While dedicated to the principle of curiosity-driven research, the Institute owns the rights to all scientific discoveries and is committed to promote their use. The first president of IST Austria is Thomas A. Henzinger, a leading computer scientist and former professor at the University of California in Berkeley, USA, and the EPFL in Lausanne, Switzerland. The graduate school of IST Austria offers fully-funded PhD positions to highly qualified candidates with a bachelor’s or master’s degree in biology, neuroscience, mathematics, computer science, physics, and related areas.

Original article:
Jonas, Peter et al.: "Complementary tuning of Na+ and K+ channel gating underlies fast and energy-efficient action potentials in GABAergic interneuron axons"
DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.02.024

Weitere Informationen:

http://ist.ac.at/research/research-groups/jonas-group/ Research group of Prof. Jonas

Dr. Elisabeth Guggenberger | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft
Further information:
https://ist.ac.at/de/

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Complete skin regeneration system of fish unraveled
24.04.2018 | Tokyo Institute of Technology

nachricht Scientists generate an atlas of the human genome using stem cells
24.04.2018 | The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: BAM@Hannover Messe: innovative 3D printing method for space flight

At the Hannover Messe 2018, the Bundesanstalt für Materialforschung und-prüfung (BAM) will show how, in the future, astronauts could produce their own tools or spare parts in zero gravity using 3D printing. This will reduce, weight and transport costs for space missions. Visitors can experience the innovative additive manufacturing process live at the fair.

Powder-based additive manufacturing in zero gravity is the name of the project in which a component is produced by applying metallic powder layers and then...

Im Focus: Molecules Brilliantly Illuminated

Physicists at the Laboratory for Attosecond Physics, which is jointly run by Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität and the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics, have developed a high-power laser system that generates ultrashort pulses of light covering a large share of the mid-infrared spectrum. The researchers envisage a wide range of applications for the technology – in the early diagnosis of cancer, for instance.

Molecules are the building blocks of life. Like all other organisms, we are made of them. They control our biorhythm, and they can also reflect our state of...

Im Focus: Spider silk key to new bone-fixing composite

University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.

Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.

Im Focus: Writing and deleting magnets with lasers

Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.

Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...

Im Focus: Gamma-ray flashes from plasma filaments

Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.

The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Invitation to the upcoming "Current Topics in Bioinformatics: Big Data in Genomics and Medicine"

13.04.2018 | Event News

Unique scope of UV LED technologies and applications presented in Berlin: ICULTA-2018

12.04.2018 | Event News

IWOLIA: A conference bringing together German Industrie 4.0 and French Industrie du Futur

09.04.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

The dispute about the origins of terahertz photoresponse in graphene results in a draw

25.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Graphene origami as a mechanically tunable plasmonic structure for infrared detection

25.04.2018 | Materials Sciences

First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed

25.04.2018 | Studies and Analyses

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>