In the glomerular layer of the olfactory bulb, local dopaminergic interneurons play a key role in regulating the flow of sensory information from nose to cortex. These dual dopamine- and GABA-releasing cells are capable of marked experience-dependent changes in the expression of neurotransmitter-synthesising enzymes, including tyrosine hydroxylase (TH). However, such plasticity has most commonly been studied in cell populations identified by their expression of the enzyme being studied and after long periods of sensory deprivation. Here, instead, we used brief 1- or 3-day manipulations of olfactory experience in juvenile mice, coupled with a conditional genetic approach that labelled neurons contingent upon their expression of the dopamine transporter (DAT-tdTomato). This enabled us to evaluate the potential for rapid changes in neurotransmitter-synthesising enzyme expression in an independently identified neuronal population. Our labelling strategy showed good specificity for olfactory bulb dopaminergic neurons, while revealing a minority sub-population of non-dopaminergic DAT-tdTomato cells that expressed the calcium-binding protein calretinin. Crucially, the proportions of these neuronal subtypes were not affected by brief alterations in sensory experience. Short-term olfactory manipulations also produced no significant changes in immunofluorescence or whole-bulb mRNA for the GABA-synthesising enzyme GAD67/Gad1. However, in bulbar DAT-tdTomato neurons, brief sensory deprivation was accompanied by a transient, small drop in immunofluorescence for the dopamine-synthesising enzyme dopa decarboxylase (DDC) and a sustained decrease for TH. Deprivation also produced a sustained decrease in whole-bulb Th mRNA. Careful characterisation of an independently identified, genetically labelled neuronal population therefore enabled us to uncover rapid experience-dependent changes in dopamine-synthesising enzyme expression.
- dopa decarboxylase
- tyrosine hydroxylase