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Synaptic transmission in the auditory brainstem and midbrain

Principal investigator: Prof.Dr. Gerard Borst

How do we recognize sounds? Specialized neurons in the auditory system are activated by some sounds but not by others. We are interested to identify the cellular mechanisms that are responsible for this. We mainly investigate this in the inferior colliculus, the medial superior olive (MSO) and in the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB).

Three ongoing projects are:

-The calyx of Held synapse is a fast auditory relay in the MNTB of the auditory brainstem. In the adult, each principal cell of the MNTB is innervated by a single, giant, axosomatic terminal called the calyx of Held. We study how this one-on-one relation arises during development, using in vivo two-photon imaging and patch-clamp techniques.

-The medial superior olive is the first nucleus where inputs from both ears meet. Neurons in the MSO act as coincidence detectors: if excitatory inputs from both ears arrives within a narrow temporal window, the EPSPs will sum and the neuron will fire. We investigate the specializations that allow these cells to do this with such precision.

-The inferior colliculus integrates inputs from the brainstem auditory nuclei. Using in vivo patch clamp recordings and two-photon calcium imaging, we study how the integration of synaptic inputs by the cells in the inferior colliculus determines their tuning properties, and we study whether a change in firing properties is involved in tinnitus.

Recent publications

  • Plauška, A., van der Heijden, M. and Borst, J.G.G. (2017) A test of the stereausis hypothesis for sound localization in mammals. J Neuroscience 37: 7278-7289 (pubmed).
  • Sierksma, M.C. and Borst, J.G.G. (2017) Resistance to action potential depression of a rat axon terminal in vivo. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 114: 4249-4254 (pubmed).
  • Sierksma, M.C., Tedja, M.S. and Borst, J.G.G. (2017) In vivo matching of postsynaptic excitability with spontaneous synaptic inputs during formation of the rat calyx of Held synapse. J. Physiol. 595: 207-231 (pubmed).
  • Plauška, A., Borst, J.G.G. and van der Heijden, M. (2016) Predicting binaural responses from monaural responses in the gerbil medial superior olive. J Neurophysiol 115: 2950-2963 (pubmed).
  • Wang, T., de Kok, L., Willemsen, R., Elgersma, Y. and Borst, J.G.G. (2015) In vivo synaptic transmission and morphology in mouse models of Tuberous sclerosis, Fragile X syndrome, Neurofibromatosis type 1 and Costello syndrome. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 9: 234. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2015.00234.(pubmed)
  • Nagtegaal, A. P. , Rainey, R. N., van der Pluijm, I., Brandt, R. M. C., van der Horst, G. T. J., Borst, J.G.G. and Segil, N. (2015) Cockayne syndrome group B (Csb) and group A (Csa) deficiencies predispose to hearing loss and cochlear hair cell degeneration in mice. J. Neurosci. 35: 4280-6 (pubmed).
  • Di Guilmi M.N., Wang, T., Gonzalez Inchauspe, C., Forsythe, I.D., Ferrari, M.D., van den Maagdenberg, A.M.J.M., Borst, J.G.G. and Uchitel, O.D. (2014) Synaptic gain-of-function effects of mutant Cav2.1 channels in a mouse model of familial hemiplegic migraine are due to increased basal [Ca2+]i. J. Neurosci. 34: 7047-7058 (pubmed).
  • Wang, T., Rusu, S.I., Hruskova, B., Turecek, R. and Borst, J.G.G. (2013) Modulation of synaptic depression of the calyx of Held synapse by GABAB receptors and spontaneous activity. J. Physiol. 591: 4877-4894 (pubmed).
  • Forsythe, I.D., Wu, C. and Borst, J.G.G. (2013) Size matters: form and function of giant synapses. J. Physiol. 591: 3123 (pubmed).
  • van der Heijden, M.*, Lorteije, J.A.M.*, Plauška, A., Roberts, M.T., Golding, N.L. and Borst, J.G.G. (2013) Directional hearing by linear summation of binaural inputs at the Medial Superior Olive. Neuron 78: 936-948 (pubmed).
  • Geis, H.-R.A.P. and Borst, J.G.G. (2013) Intracellular responses to frequency modulated tones in the dorsal cortex of the mouse inferior colliculus. Front. Neural Circuits 7:7 doi:10.3389/fncir.2013.00007 (pubmed).
  • Geis, H.-R.A.P. and Borst, J.G.G. (2013) Large GABAergic neurons form a distinct subclass within the mouse dorsal cortex of the inferior colliculus with respect to intrinsic properties, synaptic inputs, sound responses, and projections. J. Comp. Neurol. 521: 189-202 (pubmed).