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J Physiol. 2001 Jul 15;534(Pt. 2):501-10.

Serotonin facilitates AMPA-type responses in isolated siphon motor neurons of Aplysia in culture.

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Division of Life Sciences, University of Texas at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78249, USA.


1. Serotonin (5-HT) facilitates the connections between sensory and motor neurons in Aplysia during behavioural sensitization. The effect of 5-HT on sensorimotor synapses is believed to be primarily presynaptic. Here we tested whether 5-HT can have an exclusively postsynaptic facilitatory effect. 2. Siphon motor neurons were individually dissociated from the abdominal ganglion of Aplysia and placed into cell culture. Brief pulses of glutamate, the putative sensory neuron transmitter, were focally applied (0.1 Hz) to solitary motor neurons in culture, and the glutamate-evoked postsynaptic potentials (Glu-PSPs) were recorded. 3. When 5-HT was perfused over the motor neuron for 10 min, the amplitude of the Glu-PSPs was significantly increased. The 5-HT-induced enhancement of the Glu-PSPs persisted for at least 40 min after washout. 4. Prior injection into the motor neuron of the calcium chelator BAPTA, GDP-beta-S or GTP-gamma-S blocked the 5-HT-induced facilitation of the Glu-PSPs. However, the facilitation was not blocked when APV, an NMDA receptor antagonist, was applied together with the 5-HT. 5. The enhancement of the Glu-PSPs by 5-HT was reversed by the AMPA receptor antagonist DNQX, indicating that 5-HT increased the functional expression of AMPA-type receptors in the motor neuron. 6. The presence of botulinum toxin in the motor neuron blocked the 5-HT-induced enhancement of the Glu-PSPs. As botulinum toxin prevents exocytosis we hypothesize that during sensitization 5-HT causes the insertion of additional AMPA-type receptors into the postsynaptic membrane of sensorimotor synapses via exocytosis. This postsynaptic mechanism may contribute to facilitation of the synapses.

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