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I did my PhD in Dr Stéphane Dieudonné’s lab at IBENS (Paris, France) between 2011 and 2014, where I characterized a population of inhibitory neurons in the cerebellar nuclei by combining the use of transgenic mouse lines, immunochemistry, stereotaxic brain injections of anatomical tracers and viruses, electrophysiology and optogenetics. I then moved on to my first postdoc in Dr Ewan Smith’s team in 2015 when I first worked on ion channels underlying arthritic pain, before being awarded an long-term EMBO fellowship. During the last two year, I worked on the hypoxia resistance and acid-sensing of naked mole-rat brain neurons, mainly using primary cell cultures and electrophysiology.

Expertise: Electrophysiology, Immunohistochemistry, Neurobiology, Optogenetics, Rodents Models

7 publication(s) since Novembre 2012:

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* equal contribution
The indicated IF have been collected by the Web of Sciences in

02/04/2019 | J Clin Invest   IF 12.3
The gliotransmitter ACBP controls feeding and energy homeostasis via the melanocortin system.
Bouyakdan K, Martin H, Lienard F, Budry L, Taib B, Rodaros D, Chretien C, Biron E, Husson Z, Cota D, Penicaud L, Fulton S, Fioramonti X, Alquier T

Glial cells have emerged as key players in the central control of energy balance and etiology of obesity. Astrocytes play a central role in neural communication via the release of gliotransmitters. Acyl-CoA binding protein (ACBP)-derived endozepines are secreted peptides that modulate the GABAA receptor. In the hypothalamus, ACBP is enriched in arcuate nucleus (ARC) astrocytes, ependymocytes and tanycytes. Central administration of the endozepine octadecaneuropeptide (ODN) reduces feeding and improves glucose tolerance, yet the contribution of endogenous ACBP in energy homeostasis is unknown. We demonstrated that ACBP deletion in GFAP+ astrocytes, but not in Nkx2.1-lineage neural cells, promoted diet-induced hyperphagia and obesity in both male and female mice, an effect prevented by viral rescue of ACBP in ARC astrocytes. ACBP-astrocytes were observed in apposition with proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons and ODN selectively activated POMC neurons through the ODN-GPCR but not GABAA, and supressed feeding while increasing carbohydrate utilization via the melanocortin system. Similarly, ACBP overexpression in ARC astrocytes reduced feeding and weight gain. Finally, the ODN-GPCR agonist decreased feeding and promoted weight loss in ob/ob mice. These findings uncover ACBP as an ARC gliopeptide playing a key role in energy balance control and exerting strong anorectic effects via the central melanocortin system.

09/05/2018 | mol brain   IF 4.1
Naked mole-rat cortical neurons are resistant to acid-induced cell death.
Husson Z, Smith ESJ

Regulation of brain pH is a critical homeostatic process and changes in brain pH modulate various ion channels and receptors and thus neuronal excitability. Tissue acidosis, resulting from hypoxia or hypercapnia, can activate various proteins and ion channels, among which acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) a family of primarily Na(+) permeable ion channels, which alongside classical excitotoxicity causes neuronal death. Naked mole-rats (NMRs, Heterocephalus glaber) are long-lived, fossorial, eusocial rodents that display remarkable behavioral/cellular hypoxia and hypercapnia resistance. In the central nervous system, ASIC subunit expression is similar between mouse and NMR with the exception of much lower expression of ASIC4 throughout the NMR brain. However, ASIC function and neuronal sensitivity to sustained acidosis has not been examined in the NMR brain. Here, we show with whole-cell patch-clamp electrophysiology of cultured NMR and mouse cortical and hippocampal neurons that NMR neurons have smaller voltage-gated Na(+) channel currents and more hyperpolarized resting membrane potentials. We further demonstrate that acid-mediated currents in NMR neurons are of smaller magnitude than in mouse, and that all currents in both species are reversibly blocked by the ASIC antagonist benzamil. We further demonstrate that NMR neurons show greater resistance to acid-induced cell death than mouse neurons. In summary, NMR neurons show significant cellular resistance to acidotoxicity compared to mouse neurons, contributing factors likely to be smaller ASIC-mediated currents and reduced NaV activity.

2016 | mol pain   IF 2.7
Characterization of cutaneous and articular sensory neurons.
da Silva Serra I, Husson Z, Bartlett JD, Smith ES

BACKGROUND: A wide range of stimuli can activate sensory neurons and neurons innervating specific tissues often have distinct properties. Here, we used retrograde tracing to identify sensory neurons innervating the hind paw skin (cutaneous) and ankle/knee joints (articular), and combined immunohistochemistry and electrophysiology analysis to determine the neurochemical phenotype of cutaneous and articular neurons, as well as their electrical and chemical excitability. RESULTS: Immunohistochemistry analysis using RetroBeads as a retrograde tracer confirmed previous data that cutaneous and articular neurons are a mixture of myelinated and unmyelinated neurons, and the majority of both populations are peptidergic. In whole-cell patch-clamp recordings from cultured dorsal root ganglion neurons, voltage-gated inward currents and action potential parameters were largely similar between articular and cutaneous neurons, although cutaneous neuron action potentials had a longer half-peak duration (HPD). An assessment of chemical sensitivity showed that all neurons responded to a pH 5.0 solution, but that acid-sensing ion channel (ASIC) currents, determined by inhibition with the nonselective acid-sensing ion channel antagonist benzamil, were of a greater magnitude in cutaneous compared to articular neurons. Forty to fifty percent of cutaneous and articular neurons responded to capsaicin, cinnamaldehyde, and menthol, indicating similar expression levels of transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 (TRPV1), transient receptor potential ankyrin 1 (TRPA1), and transient receptor potential melastatin 8 (TRPM8), respectively. By contrast, significantly more articular neurons responded to ATP than cutaneous neurons. CONCLUSION: This work makes a detailed characterization of cutaneous and articular sensory neurons and highlights the importance of making recordings from identified neuronal populations: sensory neurons innervating different tissues have subtly different properties, possibly reflecting different functions.

12/05/2015 | elife   IF 7.6
A novel inhibitory nucleo-cortical circuit controls cerebellar Golgi cell activity.
Ankri L, Husson Z, Pietrajtis K, Proville R, Lena C, Yarom Y, Dieudonne S, Uusisaari MY

The cerebellum, a crucial center for motor coordination, is composed of a cortex and several nuclei. The main mode of interaction between these two parts is considered to be formed by the inhibitory control of the nuclei by cortical Purkinje neurons. We now amend this view by showing that inhibitory GABA-glycinergic neurons of the cerebellar nuclei (CN) project profusely into the cerebellar cortex, where they make synaptic contacts on a GABAergic subpopulation of cerebellar Golgi cells. These spontaneously firing Golgi cells are inhibited by optogenetic activation of the inhibitory nucleo-cortical fibers both in vitro and in vivo. Our data suggest that the CN may contribute to the functional recruitment of the cerebellar cortex by decreasing Golgi cell inhibition onto granule cells.

The principal neurons of the cerebellar nuclei (CN), the sole output of the olivo-cerebellar system, receive a massive inhibitory input from Purkinje cells (PCs) of the cerebellar cortex. Morphological evidence suggests that CN principal cells are also contacted by inhibitory interneurons, but the properties of this connection are unknown. Using transgenic, tracing, and immunohistochemical approaches in mice, we show that CN interneurons form a large heterogeneous population with GABA/glycinergic phenotypes, distinct from GABAergic olive-projecting neurons. CN interneurons are found to contact principal output neurons, via glycine receptor (GlyR)-enriched synapses, virtually devoid of the main GABA receptor (GABAR) subunits alpha1 and gamma2. Those clusters account for 5% of the total number of inhibitory receptor clusters on principal neurons. Brief optogenetic stimulations of CN interneurons, through selective expression of channelrhodopsin 2 after viral-mediated transfection of the flexed gene in GlyT2-Cre transgenic mice, evoked fast IPSCs in principal cells. GlyR activation accounted for 15% of interneuron IPSC amplitude, while the remaining current was mediated by activation of GABAR. Surprisingly, small GlyR clusters were also found at PC synapses onto principal CN neurons in addition to alpha1 and gamma2 GABAR subunits. However, GlyR activation was found to account for <3% of the PC inhibitory synaptic currents evoked by electrical stimulation. This work establishes CN glycinergic neurons as a significant source of inhibition to CN principal cells, forming contacts molecularly distinct from, but functionally similar to, Purkinje cell synapses. Their impact on CN output, motor learning, and motor execution deserves further investigation.

23/01/2013 | J Neurosci   IF 6.1
Differential balance of prefrontal synaptic activity in successful versus unsuccessful cognitive aging.
Bories C, Husson Z, Guitton MJ, De Koninck Y

Normal aging is associated with a variable decline in cognitive functions. Among these, executive function, decision-making, and working memory are primarily associated with the prefrontal cortex. Although a number of studies have examined the structural substrates of cognitive decline associated with aging within this cortical area, their functional correlates remain poorly understood. To fill this gap, we aimed to identify functional synaptic substrates of age-associated frontal-dependent deficits in layer 2/3 pyramidal neurons of medial prefrontal cortex of 3-, 9-, and >/= 23-month-old Fischer 344 rats. We combined, in the same animals, novelty recognition and exploratory behavioral tasks with assessment of structural and functional aspects of prefrontal synaptic properties. We found that subsets of aged animals displayed stereotyped exploratory behavior or memory deficits. Despite an age-dependent dendritic spine loss, patch-clamp recording of synaptic activity revealed an increase in miniature EPSC frequency restricted to aged animals with preserved exploratory behavior. In contrast, we found a strong positive relationship between miniature IPSC frequency and the occurrence of both stereotyped exploratory behavior and novelty-related memory deficits. The enhanced miniature inhibitory tone was accompanied by a deficit in activity-driven inhibition, also suggesting an impaired dynamic range for modulation of inhibition in the aged, cognitively impaired animals. Together, our data indicate that differential changes in the balance of inhibitory to excitatory synaptic tone may underlie distinct trajectories in the evolution of cognitive performance during aging.

11/2012 | amino acids   IF 2.5
Taurine deficiency damages retinal neurones: cone photoreceptors and retinal ganglion cells.
Gaucher D, Arnault E, Husson Z, Froger N, Dubus E, Gondouin P, Dherbecourt D, Degardin J, Simonutti M, Fouquet S, Benahmed MA, Elbayed K, Namer IJ, Massin P, Sahel JA, Picaud S

In 1970s, taurine deficiency was reported to induce photoreceptor degeneration in cats and rats. Recently, we found that taurine deficiency contributes to the retinal toxicity of vigabatrin, an antiepileptic drug. However, in this toxicity, retinal ganglion cells were degenerating in parallel to cone photoreceptors. The aim of this study was to re-assess a classic mouse model of taurine deficiency following a treatment with guanidoethane sulfonate (GES), a taurine transporter inhibitor to determine whether retinal ganglion cells are also affected. GES treatment induced a significant reduction in the taurine plasma levels and a lower weight increase. At the functional level, photopic electroretinograms were reduced indicating a dysfunction in the cone pathway. A change in the autofluorescence appearance of the eye fundus was explained on histological sections by an increased autofluorescence of the retinal pigment epithelium. Although the general morphology of the retina was not affected, cell damages were indicated by the general increase in glial fibrillary acidic protein expression. When cell quantification was achieved on retinal sections, the number of outer/inner segments of cone photoreceptors was reduced (20 %) as the number of retinal ganglion cells (19 %). An abnormal synaptic plasticity of rod bipolar cell dendrites was also observed in GES-treated mice. These results indicate that taurine deficiency can not only lead to photoreceptor degeneration but also to retinal ganglion cell loss. Cone photoreceptors and retinal ganglion cells appear as the most sensitive cells to taurine deficiency. These results may explain the recent therapeutic interest of taurine in retinal degenerative pathologies.