Neuroepithelial progenitors generate and propagate non-neuronal action potentials across the spinal cord
Current Biology. 2021-09-01; :
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Arulkandarajah KH(1), Osterstock G(1), Lafont A(1), Le Corronc H(2), Escalas N(3), Corsini S(1), Le Bras B(1), Chenane L(1), Boeri J(1), Czarnecki A(1), Mouffle C(1), Bullier E(1), Hong E(1), Soula C(3), Legendre P(1), Mangin JM(4).
(1)Sorbonne Université, INSERM, CNRS, Neurosciences Paris Seine – Institut de Biologie Paris Seine (NPS – IBPS), 75005 Paris, France.
(2)Sorbonne Université, INSERM, CNRS, Neurosciences Paris Seine – Institut de Biologie Paris Seine (NPS – IBPS), 75005 Paris, France; Université d’Angers, 49000 Angers, France.
(3)Centre de Biologie du Développement (CBD) CNRS/UPS, Centre de Biologie Intégrative (CBI), Université de Toulouse, 31000 Toulouse, France.
(4)Sorbonne Université, INSERM, CNRS, Neurosciences Paris Seine – Institut de Biologie Paris Seine (NPS – IBPS), 75005 Paris, France. Electronic address: .
In the developing central nervous system, electrical signaling is thought to rely exclusively on differentiating neurons as they acquire the ability to generate and propagate action potentials. Accordingly, neuroepithelial progenitors (NEPs), which give rise to all neurons and glial cells during development, have been reported to remain electrically passive. Here, we investigated the physiological properties of NEPs at the onset of spontaneous neural activity (SNA) initiating motor behavior in mouse embryonic spinal cord. Using patch-clamp recordings, we discovered that spinal NEPs exhibit spontaneous membrane depolarizations during episodes of SNA. These rhythmic depolarizations exhibited a ventral-to-dorsal gradient with the highest amplitude located in the floor plate, the ventral-most part of the neuroepithelium. Paired recordings revealed that NEPs are coupled via gap junctions and form an electrical syncytium. Although other NEPs were electrically passive, we discovered that floor-plate NEPs generated large Na+/Ca2+ action potentials. Unlike in neurons, floor-plate action potentials relied primarily on the activation of voltage-gated T-type calcium channels (TTCCs). In situ hybridization showed that all 3 known subtypes of TTCCs are predominantly expressed in the floor plate. During SNA, we found that acetylcholine released by motoneurons rhythmically triggers floor-plate action potentials by acting through nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. Finally, by expressing the genetically encoded calcium indicator GCaMP6f in the floor plate, we demonstrated that neuroepithelial action potentials are associated with calcium waves and propagate along the entire length of the spinal cord. Our work reveals a novel physiological mechanism to generate and propagate electrical signals across a neural structure independently from neurons.
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