Now showing 1 - 5 of 5
  • Publication
    Automated analysis of intracellular calcium fluorescence in rat organotypic hippocampal cultures: comparison to a manual, observer based method.
    The technical advances made in microscopy have been matched by an increase in the application of fluorescent microscopy to answer scientific questions. While analysis of fluorescent microscopy images represents a powerful tool, one must be aware of the potential pitfalls. Frequently, the analysis methods applied involve at least some manual steps which are dependent on an observers input.  Typically these steps are laborious and time consuming, but more importantly they are also influenced by an individual observer¿s bias, drift or imprecision. This raises concerns about the repeatability and definitiveness of the reported observations. Using calcium fluorescence in organotypic hippocampal slices as an experimental platform, we demonstrate the influence that manual interventions can exert on an analysis. We show that there is a high degree of variability between observers, and that this can be sufficient to affect the outcome of an experiment. To counter this, and to eliminate the disagreement between observers, we describe an alternative fully automated method which was created using EBImage package for R. This method has the added advantage of being fully open source and customisable, allowing for this approach to be applied to other analyses.
    Scopus© Citations 2  422
  • Publication
    CX3CL1 is up-regulated in the rat hippocampus during memory-associated synaptic plasticity
    Several cytokines and chemokines are now known to play normal physiological roles in the brain where they act as key regulators of communication between neurons, glia, and microglia. In particular, cytokines and chemokines can affect cardinal cellular and molecular processes of hippocampal-dependent long-term memory consolidation including synaptic plasticity, synaptic scaling and neurogenesis. The chemokine, CX3CL1 (fractalkine), has been shown to modulate synaptic transmission and long-term potentiation (LTP) in the CA1 pyramidal cell layer of the hippocampus. Here, we confirm widespread expression of CX3CL1 on mature neurons in the adult rat hippocampus. We report an up-regulation in CX3CL1 protein expression in the CA1, CA3 and dentate gyrus (DG) of the rat hippocampus 2 h after spatial learning in the water maze task. Moreover, the same temporal increase in CX3CL1 was evident following LTP-inducing theta-burst stimulation in the DG. At physiologically relevant concentrations, CX3CL1 inhibited LTP maintenance in the DG. This attenuation in dentate LTP was lost in the presence of GABAA receptor/chloride channel antagonism. CX3CL1 also had opposing actions on glutamate-mediated rise in intracellular calcium in hippocampal organotypic slice cultures in the presence and absence of GABAA receptor/chloride channel blockade. Using primary dissociated hippocampal cultures, we established that CX3CL1 reduces glutamate-mediated intracellular calcium rises in both neurons and glia in a dose dependent manner. In conclusion, CX3CL1 is up-regulated in the hippocampus during a brief temporal window following spatial learning the purpose of which may be to regulate glutamate-mediated neurotransmission tone. Our data supports a possible role for this chemokine in the protective plasticity process of synaptic scaling.
      523Scopus© Citations 64
  • Publication
    Leading in the academy: women science professors at university college Dublin in the 1960s
    (Taylor and Francis, 2022-02-01) ;
    The under-representation of women in senior echelons of the academy, particularly in disciplines which have been historically male-dominated and male-led, is well-documented internationally. The narrative, however, is not a linear one, and there have been intervals of alteration and narrow apertures of opportunity. This article focuses on one of those intervals, the period 1957–1962, which saw three women professors being appointed to the Science Faculty at University College Dublin: Carmel Humphries (1909–1986) first female professor of zoology (1957); Phyllis Clinch (1901–1984) first female professor of botany (1961); and Eva Philbin (1914–2005) first female professor of organic chemistry (1962). Interrogating the career biographies of Humphries, Clinch, and Philbin, this article examines how as outsiders within an academic hierarchy marked by male privilege, these women managed to infiltrate the inner sanctum of university activity, undertaking leading, high profile academic roles in prestigious, male-dominated disciplines. The article finds, however, that while Humphries, Clinch, and Philbin were successful in negotiating, even shifting, the university’s centre of gravity for a brief period, this powerbase was soon eroded and the dominant hegemony reinstated, ushering women scientists back to the margins of university activity.
      63Scopus© Citations 1
  • Publication
    Theta-Burst Stimulation of Hippocampal Slices Induces Network-Level Calcium Oscillations and Activates Analogous Gene Transcription to Spatial Learning
    Over four decades ago, it was discovered that high-frequency stimulation of the dentate gyrus induces long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic transmission. LTP is believed to underlie how we process and code external stimuli before converting it to salient information that we store as 'memories'. It has been shown that rats performing spatial learning tasks display theta-frequency (3–12 Hz) hippocampal neural activity. Moreover, administering theta-burst stimulation (TBS) to hippocampal slices can induce LTP. TBS triggers a sustained rise in intracellular calcium [Ca2+]i in neurons leading to new protein synthesis important for LTP maintenance. In this study, we measured TBS-induced [Ca2+]i oscillations in thousands of cells at increasing distances from the source of stimulation. Following TBS, a calcium wave propagates radially with an average speed of 5.2 µm/s and triggers multiple and regular [Ca2+]i oscillations in the hippocampus. Interestingly, the number and frequency of [Ca2+]i fluctuations post-TBS increased with respect to distance from the electrode. During the post-tetanic phase, 18% of cells exhibited 3 peaks in [Ca2+]i with a frequency of 17 mHz, whereas 2.3% of cells distributed further from the electrode displayed 8 [Ca2+]i oscillations at 33 mHz. We suggest that these observed [Ca2+]i oscillations could lead to activation of transcription factors involved in synaptic plasticity. In particular, the transcription factor, NF-κB, has been implicated in memory formation and is up-regulated after LTP induction. We measured increased activation of NF-κB 30 min post-TBS in CA1 pyramidal cells and also observed similar temporal up-regulation of NF-κB levels in CA1 neurons following water maze training in rats. Therefore, TBS of hippocampal slice cultures in vitro can mimic the cell type-specific up-regulations in activated NF-κB following spatial learning in vivo. This indicates that TBS may induce similar transcriptional changes to spatial learning and that TBS-triggered [Ca2+]i oscillations could activate memory-associated gene expression.
      342Scopus© Citations 10
  • Publication
    REST is a hypoxia-responsive transcriptional repressor
    Cellular exposure to hypoxia results in altered gene expression in a range of physiologic and pathophysiologic states. Discrete cohorts of genes can be either up- or down-regulated in response to hypoxia. While the Hypoxia-Inducible Factor (HIF) is the primary driver of hypoxia-induced adaptive gene expression, less is known about the signalling mechanisms regulating hypoxia-dependent gene repression. Using RNA-seq, we demonstrate that equivalent numbers of genes are induced and repressed in human embryonic kidney (HEK293) cells. We demonstrate that nuclear localization of the Repressor Element 1-Silencing Transcription factor (REST) is induced in hypoxia and that REST is responsible for regulating approximately 20% of the hypoxia-repressed genes. Using chromatin immunoprecipitation assays we demonstrate that REST-dependent gene repression is at least in part mediated by direct binding to the promoters of target genes. Based on these data, we propose that REST is a key mediator of gene repression in hypoxia.
      363Scopus© Citations 55