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J Neurophysiol. 1991 Dec;66(6):1912-26.

Modulatory effects of serotonin, FMRFamide, and myomodulin on the duration of action potentials, excitability, and membrane currents in tail sensory neurons of Aplysia.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy, University of Texas Medical School, Houston 77225.


1. The electrophysiological properties of sensory neurons that mediate withdrawal reflexes of Aplysia can be modulated by a variety of neurotransmitters. We compared the known excitatory actions of serotonin (5-HT) with the actions of FMRFamide (Phe-Met-Arg-Phe-NH2) and myomodulin (Pro-Met-Ser-Met-Leu-Arg-Leu-NH2) on the durations of action potentials and excitability. In addition, with the use of voltage-clamp and pharmacological separation techniques, we characterized the membrane currents that were modulated by each of the three agents. 2. Application of 5-HT produced an increase in the duration of action potentials and an enhancement of excitability in somata of the tail sensory neurons. FMRFamide and myomodulin reversed these excitatory effects and decreased the duration of action potentials and excitability. These results indicated that FMRFamide and myomodulin exerted inhibitory effects on the electrophysiological properties of the sensory neurons. properties of the sensory neurons. 3. FMRFamide appeared to modulate three K+ currents. The first current, which was increased by FMRFamide, had properties closely resembling those of the S-K+ current (IK,S). These properties include slow activation, little inactivation, and relative insensitivity to the K+ channel blockers 4-aminopyridine (4-AP) and tetraethylammonium (TEA). The second current, which was reduced by FMRFamide, had kinetic and pharmacological properties similar to those of a component of the Ca(2+)-activated K+ current (IK,Ca). Finally, at large depolarizations, FMRFamide appeared to increase a third current that was attenuated by 4-AP, suggesting that FMRFamide also modulated the delayed or voltage-dependent K+ current (IK,V). 4. Myomodulin appeared to modulate two of the currents modulated by FMRFamide, because it increased both IK,S and IK,V. Unlike FMRFamide, however, myomodulin did not appear to modulate IK,Ca. 5. Arachidonic acid mimicked the modulation of IK,S, IK,Ca, and IK,V by FMRFamide. Because myomodulin did not modulate IK,Ca, it appears that a second messenger other than arachidonic acid or its metabolites mediates the modulatory effects of myomodulin. 6. These results indicate that both FMRFamide and myomodulin can inhibit the tail sensory neurons by increasing IK,S. FMRFamide, but not myomodulin, also reduces IK,Ca, which suggests that under some conditions FMRFamide may also have excitatory actions. Finally, these results suggest that the effects of FMRFamide and myomodulin may be mediated by different second-messenger systems.

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