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Trends Neurosci. 1995 Feb;18(2):104-11.

Current excitement from insect muscarinic receptors.

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Dept of Biology, Dana Laboratory, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155, USA.


Recent electrophysiological, pharmacological and molecular studies suggest that muscarinic ACh receptors (mAChRs) in insects are related to, but distinct from, their mammalian counterparts. Insect mAChRs perform two primary roles that are distinguished by their locations. Presynaptic mAChRs, present on sensory terminals, inhibit transmitter release, thereby reducing the effectiveness of specific afferent inputs. In contrast, postsynaptic mAChRs depolarize and increase the excitability of motoneurons and interneurons, thereby acting as dynamic-gain controls. This postsynaptic modulation is achieved in different ways in specific neurons but generally results from the activation of persistent inward and outward currents. At the level of neural processing, these distinct roles enable insect mAChRs to regulate the transfer of sensory information, and modulate the contributions of central neurons to central pattern generators and reflexes. Because these phenomena can be studied in identified neurons, a combination of physiological and molecular studies of mAChRs in insects should help to elucidate some of their behavioral roles. Furthermore, such studies could lead to the identification of general mechanisms of functional plasticity in neuronal networks.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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