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Andreas FRICK

Principal Investigator

Phone : 33(0)5 57 57 37 04
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« Dr. rer nat » (PhD): summa cum laude. Institut Max-Planck pour Psychiatrie, Université Technique de Munich, Munich, Allemagne. Superviseur Pr. H. U. Dodt et Pr. H. Zieglgaensberger
Chercheur postdoctorant, boursier d'excellence Feodor Lynen (Alexander von Humboldt foundation). Baylor College of Medicine, Division de Neuroscience, Houston, Texas, Etats-Unis. Superviseur : Pr Daniel Johnston
Chargé de Recherche. Institut Max-Planck pour la Recherche Médicale, Département de Biologie Cellulaire, Heidelberg, Allemagne. Directeur : Pr. Bert Sakmann
Chargé de recherche INSERM «AVENIR », Neurocentre Magendie (2008-2010)
Chercheur INSERM statutaire CR1, Neurocentre Magendie (depuis 2009)

37 publication(s) since Novembre 1998:

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

10/2010 | Cereb Cortex   IF 5.4
Cell type-specific thalamic innervation in a column of rat vibrissal cortex.
Meyer HS, Wimmer VC, Hemberger M, Bruno RM, de Kock CP, Frick A, Sakmann B, Helmstaedter M

This is the concluding article in a series of 3 studies that investigate the anatomical determinants of thalamocortical (TC) input to excitatory neurons in a cortical column of rat primary somatosensory cortex (S1). We used viral synaptophysin-enhanced green fluorescent protein expression in thalamic neurons and reconstructions of biocytin-labeled cortical neurons in TC slices to quantify the number and distribution of boutons from the ventral posterior medial (VPM) and posteromedial (POm) nuclei potentially innervating dendritic arbors of excitatory neurons located in layers (L)2-6 of a cortical column in rat somatosensory cortex. We found that 1) all types of excitatory neurons potentially receive substantial TC input (90-580 boutons per neuron); 2) pyramidal neurons in L3-L6 receive dual TC input from both VPM and POm that is potentially of equal magnitude for thick-tufted L5 pyramidal neurons (ca. 300 boutons each from VPM and POm); 3) L3, L4, and L5 pyramidal neurons have multiple (2-4) subcellular TC innervation domains that match the dendritic compartments of pyramidal cells; and 4) a subtype of thick-tufted L5 pyramidal neurons has an additional VPM innervation domain in L4. The multiple subcellular TC innervation domains of L5 pyramidal neurons may partly explain their specific action potential patterns observed in vivo. We conclude that the substantial potential TC innervation of all excitatory neuron types in a cortical column constitutes an anatomical basis for the initial near-simultaneous representation of a sensory stimulus in different neuron types.


Pyramidal neurons of layer 5A are a major neocortical output type and clearly distinguished from layer 5B pyramidal neurons with respect to morphology, in vivo firing patterns, and connectivity; yet knowledge of their dendritic properties is scant. We used a combination of whole-cell recordings and Ca(2+) imaging techniques in vitro to explore the specific dendritic signaling role of physiological action potential patterns recorded in vivo in layer 5A pyramidal neurons of the whisker-related 'barrel cortex'. Our data provide evidence that the temporal structure of physiological action potential patterns is crucial for an effective invasion of the main apical dendrites up to the major branch point. Both the critical frequency enabling action potential trains to invade efficiently and the dendritic calcium profile changed during postnatal development. In contrast to the main apical dendrite, the more passive properties of the short basal and apical tuft dendrites prevented an efficient back-propagation. Various Ca(2+) channel types contributed to the enhanced calcium signals during high-frequency firing activity, whereas A-type K(+) and BK(Ca) channels strongly suppressed it. Our data support models in which the interaction of synaptic input with action potential output is a function of the timing, rate and pattern of action potentials, and dendritic location.

15/02/2009 | J Physiol   IF 5
Synaptic ionotropic glutamate receptors and plasticity are developmentally altered in the CA1 field of Fmr1 knockout mice
Pilpel Y, Kolleker A, Berberich S, Ginger M, Frick A, Mientjes E, Oostra B A, Seeburg P H

Fragile X syndrome is one of the most common forms of mental retardation, yet little is known about the physiological mechanisms causing the disease. In this study, we probed the ionotropic glutamate receptor content in synapses of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons in a mouse model for fragile X (Fmr1 KO2). We found that Fmr1 KO2 mice display a significantly lower AMPA to NMDA ratio than wild-type mice at 2 weeks of postnatal development but not at 6-7 weeks of age. This ratio difference at 2 weeks postnatally is caused by down-regulation of the AMPA and up-regulation of the NMDA receptor components. In correlation with these changes, the induction of NMDA receptor-dependent long-term potentiation following a low-frequency pairing protocol is increased in Fmr1 KO2 mice at this developmental stage but not later in maturation. We propose that ionotropic glutamate receptors, as well as potentiation, are altered at a critical time point for hippocampal network development, causing long-term changes. Associated learning and memory deficits would contribute to the fragile X mental retardation phenotype.

15/01/2009 | J Physiol   IF 5
Kinase-dependent modification of dendritic excitability after long-term potentiation
Rosenkranz J A, Frick A, Johnston D

Patterns of presynaptic activity properly timed with postsynaptic action potential output can not only increase the strength of synaptic inputs but can also increase the excitability of dendritic branches of adult CA1 pyramidal neurons. Here, we examined the role of protein kinase A (PKA) and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) in the enhancement of dendritic excitability that occurs during theta-burst pairing of presynaptic and postsynaptic firing activity. Using dendritic and somatic whole-cell recordings in rat hippocampal slices, we measured the increase in the amplitude of back-propagating action potentials in the apical dendrite that occurs in parallel with long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic inputs. We found that inhibition of the MAPK pathway prevents this enhancement of dendritic excitability using either a weak or strong LTP induction protocol, while synaptic LTP can still be induced by the strong protocol. Both forms of plasticity are blocked by inhibition of PKA and occluded by interfering with cAMP degradation, consistent with a PKA-mediated increase in MAPK activity following induction of LTP. This provides a signalling mechanism for plasticity of dendritic excitability that occurs during neuronal activity and demonstrates the necessity of MAPK activation. Furthermore, this study uncovers an additional contribution of kinase activation to plasticity that may occur during learning.

01/02/2008 | Cereb Cortex   IF 5.4
Monosynaptic connections between pairs of L5A pyramidal neurons in columns of juvenile rat somatosensory cortex
Frick A, Feldmeyer D, Helmstaedter M, Sakmann B

Layer 5 (L5) of somatosensory cortex is a major gateway for projections to intra- and subcortical brain regions. This layer is further divided into 5A and 5B characterized by relatively separate afferent and efferent connections. Little is known about the organization of connections within L5A of neocortical columns. We therefore used paired recordings to probe the anatomy and physiology of monosynaptic connections between L5A pyramidal neurons within the barrel columns of somatosensory cortex in acute slices of approximately 3-week-old rats. Post hoc reconstruction and calculation of the axodendritic overlap of pre- and postsynaptic neurons, together with identification of putative synaptic contacts (3.5 per connection), indicated a preferred innervation domain in the proximal dendritic region. Synaptic transmission was reliable (failure rate <2%) and had a low variability (coefficient of variation of 0.3). Unitary excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) amplitudes varied 30-fold with a mean of 1.2 mV and displayed depression over a wide range of frequencies (2-100 Hz) during bursts of presynaptic firing. A single L5A pyramidal neuron was estimated to target approximately 270 other pyramidal neurons within the same layer of its home barrel column, suggesting a mechanism of feed-forward excitation by which synchronized single action potentials are efficiently transmitted within L5A of juvenile cortex.

The probability of synaptic transmitter release determines the spread of excitation and the possible range of computations at unitary connections. To investigate whether synaptic properties between neocortical pyramidal neurons change during the assembly period of cortical circuits, whole-cell voltage recordings were made simultaneously from two layer 5A (L5A) pyramidal neurons within the cortical columns of rat barrel cortex. We found that synaptic transmission between L5A pyramidal neurons is very reliable between 2 and 3 weeks of postnatal development with a mean unitary EPSP amplitude of approximately 1.2 mV, but becomes less efficient and fails more frequently in the more mature cortex of approximately 4 weeks of age with a mean unitary EPSP amplitude of 0.65 mV. Coefficient of variation and failure rate increase as the unitary EPSP amplitude decreases during development. The paired-pulse ratio (PPR) of synaptic efficacy at 10 Hz changes from 0.7 to 1.04. Despite the overall increase in PPR, short-term plasticity displays a large variability at 4 weeks, ranging from strong depression to strong facilitation (PPR, range 0.6-2.1), suggesting the potential for use-dependent modifications at this intracortical synapse. In conclusion, the transmitter release probability at the L5A-L5A connection is developmentally regulated in such a way that in juvenile animals excitation by single action potentials is efficiently transmitted, whereas in the more mature cortex synapses might be endowed with a diversity of filtering characteristics.


22/11/2006 | J Neurosci   IF 6.1
Deletion of Kv4.2 gene eliminates dendritic A-type K+ current and enhances induction of long-term potentiation in hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons
Chen X, Yuan L L, Zhao C, Birnbaum S G, Frick A, Jung W E, Schwarz T L, Sweatt J D, Johnston D

Dendritic, backpropagating action potentials (bAPs) facilitate the induction of Hebbian long-term potentiation (LTP). Although bAPs in distal dendrites of hippocampal CA1 pyramidal neurons are attenuated when propagating from the soma, their amplitude can be increased greatly via downregulation of dendritic A-type K+ currents. The channels that underlie these currents thus may represent a key regulatory component of the signaling pathways that lead to synaptic plasticity. We directly tested this hypothesis by using Kv4.2 knock-out mice. Deletion of the Kv4.2 gene and a loss of Kv4.2 protein resulted in a specific and near-complete elimination of A-type K+ currents from the apical dendrites of CA1 pyramidal neurons. The absence of dendritic Kv4.2-encoded A-type K+ currents led to an increase of bAP amplitude and an increase of concurrent Ca2+ influx. Furthermore, CA1 pyramidal neurons lacking dendritic A-type K+ currents from Kv4.2 knock-out mice exhibited a lower threshold than those of wild-type littermates for LTP induction with the use of a theta burst pairing protocol. LTP triggered with the use of a saturating protocol, on the other hand, remained indistinguishable between Kv4.2 knock-out and wild-type neurons. Our results support the hypothesis that dendritic A-type K+ channels, composed of Kv4.2 subunits, regulate action potential backpropagation and the induction of specific forms of synaptic plasticity.

01/07/2005 | J Neurobiol   IF 4.5
Plasticity of dendritic excitability
Frick A, Johnston D

Dendrites are equipped with a plethora of voltage-gated ion channels that greatly enrich the computational and storage capacity of neurons. The excitability of dendrites and dendritic function display plasticity under diverse circumstances such as neuromodulation, adaptation, learning and memory, trauma, or disorders. This adaptability arises from alterations in the biophysical properties or the expression levels of voltage-gated ion channels-induced by the activity of neurotransmitters, neuromodulators, and second-messenger cascades. In this review we discuss how this plasticity of dendritic excitability could alter information transfer and processing within dendrites, neurons, and neural networks under physiological and pathological conditions.