ICLM Journal Club

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This Week - 27 May 2022 (9:30 a.m., via Zoom)

Speaker: Felix Schweizer

Title: “ Does structure matter and are synapses real? ”

Summary: Dopaminergic (DA) neurons exert profound influences on behavior including addiction. However, how DA axons communicate with target neurons and how those communications change with drug exposure remains poorly understood. We leverage cell type-specific labeling with large volume serial electron microscopy to detail DA connections in the nucleus accumbens (NAc) of the mouse (Mus musculus) before and after exposure to cocaine. We find that individual DA axons contain different varicosity types based on their vesicle contents. Spatially ordering along individual axons further suggests that varicosity types are non-randomly organized. DA axon varicosities rarely make specific synapses (<2%, 6/410), but instead are more likely to form spinule-like structures (15%, 61/410) with neighboring neurons. Days after a brief exposure to cocaine, DA axons were extensively branched relative to controls, formed blind-ended 'bulbs' filled with mitochondria, and were surrounded by elaborated glia. Finally, mitochondrial lengths increased by ~2.2 times relative to control only in DA axons and NAc spiny dendrites after cocaine exposure. We conclude that DA axonal transmission is unlikely to be mediated via classical synapses in the NAc and that the major locus of anatomical plasticity of DA circuits after exposure to cocaine are large-scale axonal re-arrangements with correlated changes in mitochondria.

Relevant Papers: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34965204/

About Us


The Integrative Center for Learning and Memory (ICLM) is a multidisciplinary center of UCLA labs devoted to understanding the neural basis of learning and memory and its disorders. This will require a unified approach across different levels of analysis, including;

1. Elucidating the molecular cellular and systems mechanisms that allow neurons and synapses to undergo the long-term changes that ultimately correspond to 'neural memories'.

2. Understanding how functional dynamics and computations emerge from complex circuits of neurons, and how plasticity governs these processes.

3. Describing the neural systems in which different forms of learning and memory take place, and how these systems interact to ultimately generate behavior and cognition.

History of ICLM

The Integrative Center for Learning and Memory formally LMP started in its current form in 1998, and has served as a platform for many interactions and collaborations within UCLA. A key event organized by the group is the weekly ICLM Journal Club. For more than 10 years, graduate students, postdocs, principal investigators, and invited speakers have presented on topics ranging from the molecular mechanisms of synaptic plasticity, through computational models of learning, to behavior and cognition. Dean Buonomano oversees the ICLM journal club with help of student/post doctoral organizers. For other events organized by ICLM go to http://www.iclm.ucla.edu/Events.html.

Current Organizers:

Megha Sehgal (Silva Lab) & Giselle Fernandes (Silva Lab). Please email us at iclm.journalclub@gmail.com if you would like to get regular updates regarding our journal club and weekly reminders.

Current Faculty Advisor:

Dean Buonomano

Past Organizers:

i) Anna Matynia(Aug 2004 - Jun 2008) (Silva Lab)

ii) Robert Brown (Aug 2008 - Jun 2009) (Balleine Lab)

iii) Balaji Jayaprakash (Aug 2008 - Nov 2011) (Silva Lab)

iv) Justin Shobe & Thomas Rogerson (Dec 2011 - June 2013) (Silva Lab)

v) Walt Babiec (O'Dell Lab) (2013-2014)

vi) Walt Babiec (O'Dell Lab) & Helen Motanis (Buonomano Lab) (2014-2017)

vii) Helen Motanis (Buonomano Lab) & Shonali Dhingra (Mehta Lab) (2017-2018)

viii) Shonali Dhingra (Mehta Lab) (2018-2020)

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