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PLoS One. 2016 Mar 29;11(3):e0152650. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0152650. eCollection 2016.

Gap Junctions Contribute to the Regulation of Walking-Like Activity in the Adult Mudpuppy (Necturus Maculatus).

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Institute of Fundamental Medicine and Biology, Kazan Federal University, Kazan, Russia.
Departments of Pain Management and Neurosciences, Anesthesiology Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America.
Department of Pathobiology, Lerner Research Institute, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, Ohio, United States of America.


Although gap junctions are widely expressed in the developing central nervous system, the role of electrical coupling of neurons and glial cells via gap junctions in the spinal cord in adults is largely unknown. We investigated whether gap junctions are expressed in the mature spinal cord of the mudpuppy and tested the effects of applying gap junction blocker on the walking-like activity induced by NMDA or glutamate in an in vitro mudpuppy preparation. We found that glial and neural cells in the mudpuppy spinal cord expressed different types of connexins that include connexin 32 (Cx32), connexin 36 (Cx36), connexin 37 (Cx37), and connexin 43 (Cx43). Application of a battery of gap junction blockers from three different structural classes (carbenexolone, flufenamic acid, and long chain alcohols) substantially and consistently altered the locomotor-like activity in a dose-dependent manner. In contrast, these blockers did not significantly change the amplitude of the dorsal root reflex, indicating that gap junction blockers did not inhibit neuronal excitability nonselectively in the spinal cord. Taken together, these results suggest that gap junctions play a significant modulatory role in the spinal neural networks responsible for the generation of walking-like activity in the adult mudpuppy.

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