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Prog Neurobiol. 2007 Jul;82(4):202-27. Epub 2007 Apr 19.

The dynamics of signaling at the histaminergic photoreceptor synapse of arthropods.

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University of North Carolina, Department of Cell and Molecular Physiology, MBRB Campus Box 7545, 103 Mason Farm Road, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7545, USA.


Histamine, a ubiquitous aminergic messenger throughout the body, also serves as a neurotransmitter in both vertebrates and invertebrates. In particular, the photoreceptors of adult arthropods use histamine, modulating its release to signal increases and decreases in light intensity. Strong evidence from various arthropod species indicates that histamine is synthesized and stored in photoreceptors, undergoes Ca-dependent release, inhibits postsynaptic interneurons by gating Cl channels, and is then recycled. In Drosophila, the synthetic enzyme, histidine decarboxylase, and the subunits of the histamine-gated chloride channel have been cloned. Possible histamine transporters at synaptic vesicles and for reuptake remain elusive. Indeed, the mechanisms that remove histamine from the synaptic cleft, and that help terminate histamine's action, are unexpectedly complex, their details remaining unresolved. A major pathway in Drosophila, and possibly other arthropod species, is by conjugation of histamine to beta-alanine to form carcinine in adjacent glia. This conjugate then returns to the photoreceptors where it is hydrolysed to liberate histamine, which is then loaded into synaptic vesicles. Evidence from other species suggests that direct reuptake of histamine into the photoreceptors may also occur. Light depolarizes the photoreceptors, causing histamine release and postsynaptic inhibition; dimming hyperpolarizes the photoreceptors, causing a decrease in histamine release and an "off" response in the postsynaptic cell. Further pursuit of histamine's action at these highly specialized synapses should lead to an understanding of how they signal minute changes in presynaptic membrane potential, how they reliably extract signals from noise, and how they adapt to a wide range of presynaptic membrane potentials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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