Stable wakefulness requires orexin/hypocretin neurons (OHNs) and OHR2 receptors. OHNs sense diverse environmental cues and control arousal accordingly. For unknown reasons, OHNs contain multiple excitatory transmitters, including OH peptides and glutamate. To analyze their cotransmission within computational frameworks for control, we optogenetically stimulated OHNs and examined resulting outputs (spike patterns) in a downstream arousal regulator, the histamine neurons (HANs). OHR2s were essential for sustained HAN outputs. OHR2-dependent HAN output increased linearly during constant OHN input, suggesting that the OHN→HAN(OHR2) module may function as an integral controller. OHN stimulation evoked OHR2-dependent slow postsynaptic currents, similar to midnanomolar OH concentrations. Conversely, glutamate-dependent output transiently communicated OHN input onset, peaking rapidly then decaying alongside OHN→HAN glutamate currents. Blocking glutamate-driven spiking did not affect OH-driven spiking and vice versa, suggesting isolation (low cross-modulation) of outputs. Therefore, in arousal regulators, cotransmitters may translate distinct features of OHN activity into parallel, nonredundant control signals for downstream effectors.
Copyright © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.