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Invert Neurosci. 2008 Mar;8(1):19-29. Epub 2007 Nov 15.

Study of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors on cultured antennal lobe neurones from adult honeybee brains.

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Centre de Recherches sur la Cognition Animale-CNRS, Université Paul Sabatier, 118 rte de Narbonne, 31062, Toulouse, France.


In insects, acetylcholine (ACh) is the main neurotransmitter, and nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) mediate fast cholinergic synaptic transmission. In the honeybee, nAChRs are expressed in diverse structures including the primary olfactory centres of the brain, the antennal lobes (AL) and the mushroom bodies. Whole-cell, voltage-clamp recordings were used to characterize the nAChRs present on cultured AL cells from adult honeybee, Apis mellifera. In 90% of the cells, applications of ACh induced fast inward currents that desensitized slowly. The classical nicotinic agonists nicotine and imidacloprid elicited respectively 45 and 43% of the maximum ACh-induced currents. The ACh-elicited currents were blocked by nicotinic antagonists methyllycaconitine, dihydroxy-beta-erythroidine and alpha-bungarotoxin. The nAChRs on adult AL cells are cation permeable channels. Our data indicate the existence of functional nAChRs on adult AL cells that differ from nAChRs on pupal Kenyon cells from mushroom bodies by their pharmacological profile and ionic permeability, suggesting that these receptors could be implicated in different functions.

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