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      Improved tools to study astrocytes

      , ,
      Nature Reviews Neuroscience
      Springer Science and Business Media LLC

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          Calcium signaling.

          Calcium ions (Ca(2+)) impact nearly every aspect of cellular life. This review examines the principles of Ca(2+) signaling, from changes in protein conformations driven by Ca(2+) to the mechanisms that control Ca(2+) levels in the cytoplasm and organelles. Also discussed is the highly localized nature of Ca(2+)-mediated signal transduction and its specific roles in excitability, exocytosis, motility, apoptosis, and transcription.
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            DREADDs for Neuroscientists.

            Bryan Roth (2016)
            To understand brain function, it is essential that we discover how cellular signaling specifies normal and pathological brain function. In this regard, chemogenetic technologies represent valuable platforms for manipulating neuronal and non-neuronal signal transduction in a cell-type-specific fashion in freely moving animals. Designer Receptors Exclusively Activated by Designer Drugs (DREADD)-based chemogenetic tools are now commonly used by neuroscientists to identify the circuitry and cellular signals that specify behavior, perceptions, emotions, innate drives, and motor functions in species ranging from flies to nonhuman primates. Here I provide a primer on DREADDs highlighting key technical and conceptual considerations and identify challenges for chemogenetics going forward.
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              Uniquely hominid features of adult human astrocytes.

              Defining the microanatomic differences between the human brain and that of other mammals is key to understanding its unique computational power. Although much effort has been devoted to comparative studies of neurons, astrocytes have received far less attention. We report here that protoplasmic astrocytes in human neocortex are 2.6-fold larger in diameter and extend 10-fold more GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein)-positive primary processes than their rodent counterparts. In cortical slices prepared from acutely resected surgical tissue, protoplasmic astrocytes propagate Ca(2+) waves with a speed of 36 microm/s, approximately fourfold faster than rodent. Human astrocytes also transiently increase cystosolic Ca(2+) in response to glutamatergic and purinergic receptor agonists. The human neocortex also harbors several anatomically defined subclasses of astrocytes not represented in rodents. These include a population of astrocytes that reside in layers 5-6 and extend long fibers characterized by regularly spaced varicosities. Another specialized type of astrocyte, the interlaminar astrocyte, abundantly populates the superficial cortical layers and extends long processes without varicosities to cortical layers 3 and 4. Human fibrous astrocytes resemble their rodent counterpart but are larger in diameter. Thus, human cortical astrocytes are both larger, and structurally both more complex and more diverse, than those of rodents. On this basis, we posit that this astrocytic complexity has permitted the increased functional competence of the adult human brain.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Nature Reviews Neuroscience
                Nat Rev Neurosci
                Springer Science and Business Media LLC
                1471-003X
                1471-0048
                February 10 2020
                Article
                10.1038/s41583-020-0264-8
                32042146
                084c88c4-1c74-411f-be71-a6d61c4476e9
                © 2020

                http://www.springer.com/tdm

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