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Medullary Respiratory Circuit Is Reorganized by a Seasonally-Induced Program in Preparation for Hibernation
- Journal Article
Deep hibernators go through several cycles of profound drops in body temperature during the winter season, with core temperatures sometimes reaching near freezing. Yet unlike non-hibernating mammals, they can sustain breathing rhythms. The physiological processes that make this possible are still not understood. In this study, we focused on the medullary Ventral Respiratory Column of a facultative hibernator, the Syrian hamster. Using shortened day-lengths, we induced a "winter-adapted" physiological state, which is a prerequisite for hibernation. When recording electrophysiological signals from acute slices in the winter-adapted pre-Botzinger complex (preBotC), spike trains showed higher spike rates, amplitudes, complexity, as well as higher temperature sensitivity, suggesting an increase in connectivity and/or synaptic strength during the winter season. We further examined action potential waveforms and found that the depolarization integral, as measured by the area under the curve, is selectively enhanced in winter-adapted animals. This suggests that a shift in the ion handling kinetics is also being induced by the winter-adaptation program. RNA sequencing of respiratory pre-motor neurons, followed by gene set enrichment analysis, revealed differential regulation and splicing in structural, synaptic, and ion handling genes. Splice junction analysis suggested that differential exon usage is occurring in a select subset of ion handling subunits (ATP1A3, KCNC3, SCN1B), and synaptic structure genes (SNCB, SNCG, RAB3A). Our findings show that the hamster respiratory center undergoes a seasonally-cued alteration in electrophysiological properties, likely protecting against respiratory failure at low temperatures. Show more
Journal / seriesFrontiers in Neuroscience
PublisherFRONTIERS MEDIA SA
Subjectmicroelectrode array; electrophysiology; hibernation; respiratory rhythms; ventral respiratory group; medulla; Syrian hamster; pre-Botzinger complex
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