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*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)

    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
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014

    Keywords

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

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