Repetitive optogenetic stimulation of glutamatergic neurons: An alternative to NMDA treatment for generating locomotor activity in spinalized zebrafish larvae

Montgomery, J.E., Wahlstrom-Helgren, S., Vanpelt, K.T., Masino, M.A.
Physiological Reports   9: e14774 (Journal)
Registered Authors
Masino, Mark A., Montgomery, Jacob, Vanpelt, Kayce, Wahlstrom-Helgren, Sarah
locomotion, optogenetic, spinal cord, zebrafish
MeSH Terms
  • Animals
  • Excitatory Amino Acid Agonists/administration & dosage
  • Fatigue
  • Glutamic Acid/physiology*
  • Locomotion/drug effects
  • Locomotion/physiology*
  • Models, Animal
  • Motor Neurons/drug effects
  • Motor Neurons/physiology*
  • N-Methylaspartate/administration & dosage
  • N-Methylaspartate/physiology*
  • Neurons/drug effects
  • Neurons/physiology*
  • Optogenetics*
  • Spinal Cord/drug effects
  • Spinal Cord/physiology*
  • Swimming
  • Zebrafish
33769694 Full text @ Physiol. Rep.
N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) application has conventionally been used to activate spinal networks to induce locomotion in spinalized animals. We recently described an alternative approach in which application of continuous blue light activates channelrhodopsin-2 in vesicular glutamate transporter 2a (vglut2a)-expressing spinal neurons to produce organized, rhythmic locomotor activity in spinally-transected larval zebrafish. This technique arguably enhances research validity, because endogenous glutamate is released into existing synapses instead of activating only a subset of glutamatergic (NMDA) receptors with an exogenous compound. Here, we explored the viability of this approach in the context of using it for longer-term experiments. Fictive swimming was induced through repetitive application of 10-s blue light stimuli to spinalized preparations for up to 60 min at intervals of 1, 3, or 15 min. Locomotor activity was maintained throughout the experimental timecourse, demonstrating the robustness of the system. Although locomotor bursts remained organized into episodes of activity, the number of bursts elicited during each successive stimulus decreased. This was in contrast to NMDA bath application, in which bursts became less episodically organized while the overall number of bursts remained unchanged. The efficacy of the repetitive optogenetic stimulation paradigm was demonstrated through application of exogenous dopamine, which reversibly decreased the number of bursts produced per stimulus compared with untreated preparations. Finally, increasing the stimulus interval to 15 min lessened, but did not eliminate locomotor fatigue from repetitive activation. Altogether, we established repetitive optogenetic stimulation of vglut2a-expressing neurons as a viable alternative to NMDA application for activation of the zebrafish spinal locomotor network.
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