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Electrophysiological Mechanisms and Validation of Ferritin-Based Magnetogenetics for Remote Control of Neurons

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J Neurosci. 2024 May 22:e1717232024. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1717-23.2024. Online ahead of print.


Magnetogenetics was developed to remotely control genetically targeted neurons. A variant of magnetogenetics uses magnetic fields to activate transient receptor potential vanilloid (TRPV) channels when coupled with ferritin. Stimulation with static or radiofrequency (RF) magnetic fields of neurons expressing these channels induces Ca2+ transients and modulates behavior. However, the validity of ferritin-based magnetogenetics has been questioned due to controversies surrounding the underlying mechanisms and deficits in reproducibility. Here, we validated the magnetogenetic approach FeRIC using electrophysiological and imaging techniques. Previously, interference from RF stimulation rendered patch-clamp recordings inaccessible for magnetogenetics. We solved this limitation for FeRIC, and we studied the bioelectrical properties of neurons expressing TRPV4 (non-selective cation channel) and TMEM16A (chloride permeable channel) coupled to ferritin (FeRIC channels) under RF stimulation. We used cultured neurons obtained from rat hippocampus of either sex. We show that RF decreases the membrane resistance and depolarizes the membrane potential in neurons expressing TRPV4FeRIC RF does not directly trigger action potential firing but increases the neuronal basal spiking frequency. In neurons expressing TMEM16AFeRIC, RF decreases the membrane resistance, hyperpolarizes the membrane potential, and decreases the spiking frequency. Additionally, we corroborated the previously described biochemical mechanism responsible for RF-induced activation of ferritin-coupled ion channels. We solved an enduring problem for ferritin-based magnetogenetics, obtaining direct electrophysiological evidence of RF-induced activation of ferritin-coupled ion channels. We found that RF does not yield instantaneous changes in neuronal membrane potentials. Instead, RF produces responses that are long-lasting and moderate, but effective in controlling the bioelectrical properties of neurons.Significance statement Cell-specific and non-invasive stimulation can be a powerful tool for modulating neuronal circuits and functions. Magnetogenetic techniques that are fully genetically encoded provide such tools. However, there have been significant controversies surrounding the efficacy and underlying mechanisms of magnetogenetics. Here, we demonstrate that by employing a fully genetically encoded magnetogenetic approach called FeRIC, we can modulate neuronal voltage, inducing either depolarization or hyperpolarization through the activation of ion channels with magnetic fields; we validate this modulation mechanism with the gold-standard patch-clamp technique. We further discover that this neuronal modulation is not achieved by instantaneously triggering action potentials as previously assumed, but by modulating neuronal excitability.

PMID:38777598 | DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1717-23.2024

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