Testing the role of preBötzinger complex somatostatin neurons in respiratory and vocal behaviors

Srinivasan Tupal, Michael A. Rieger, Guang Yi Ling, Thomas J. Park, Joseph D. Dougherty, Ann K. Goodchild, Paul A. Gray

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

14 Scopus citations

Abstract

Identifying neurons essential for the generation of breathing and related behaviors such as vocalisation is an important question for human health. The targeted loss of preBötzinger Complex (preBötC) glutamatergic neurons, including those that express high levels of somatostatin protein (SST neurons), eliminates normal breathing in adult rats. Whether preBötC SST neurons represent a functionally specialised population is unknown. We tested the effects on respiratory and vocal behaviors of eliminating SST neuron glutamate release by Cre-Lox-mediated genetic ablation of the vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGlut2). We found the targeted loss of VGlut2 in SST neurons had no effect on viability in vivo, or on respiratory period or responses to neurokinin 1 or μ-opioid receptor agonists in vitro. We then compared medullary SST peptide expression in mice with that of two species that share extreme respiratory environments but produce either high or low frequency vocalisations. In the Mexican free-tailed bat, SST peptide-expressing neurons extended beyond the preBötC to the caudal pole of the VII motor nucleus. In the naked mole-rat, however, SST-positive neurons were absent from the ventrolateral medulla. We then analysed isolation vocalisations from SST-Cre;VGlut2F/F mice and found a significant prolongation of the pauses between syllables during vocalisation but no change in vocalisation number. These data suggest that glutamate release from preBötC SST neurons is not essential for breathing but play a species- and behavior-dependent role in modulating respiratory networks. They further suggest that the neural network generating respiration is capable of extensive plasticity given sufficient time.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3067-3077
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Volume40
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2014

Keywords

  • Bat
  • Naked mole-rat
  • PreBötzinger complex
  • Respiratory rhythm
  • Vocalisation

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