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J Neurosci. 1994 May;14(5 Pt 2):3019-35.

Muscarinic modulation of a pattern-generating network: control of neuronal properties.

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Université de Bordeaux I--C.N.R.S. URA 1126, Laboratoire de Neurobiologie et Physiologie Comparées, Arcachon, France.


The aim of this article is to investigate the cellular mechanisms underlying cholinergic modulation of the pyloric network in the stomatogastric ganglion (STG) of the Cape lobster Jasus Ialandii. Bath application of the muscarinic agonists muscarine, oxotremorine, and pilocarpine on the STG activates a rhythmic pattern from a quiescent pyloric network. The mechanisms of this modulation were investigated on individual pyloric neurons isolated both from synaptic interactions within the network (by photoinactivation of most of the presynaptic neurons and pharmacological blockade of the remaining synapses) and from central inputs (by a sucrose block of the input nerve). All three muscarinic agonists activated bursting and plateau properties of all the neurons comprising the pyloric network. The activation was dose dependent, and was blocked by the muscarinic antagonists atropine, pirenzepine, and scopolamine. The oscillatory behavior triggered by the muscarinic stimulation was specific to each type of pyloric neuron. The isolated neuron AB had the shortest oscillation period and depolarizing phase. The constrictor neurons (LP, PY, IC) were the slowest oscillators, and only oscillated upon hyperpolarizing current injection. Under muscarinic modulation, the individual bursting activities of the isolated pyloric neurons were of the same type as their activities when isolated from the network but modulated by central inputs (Bal et al., 1988). The VD neuron is an exception since it was a rapid oscillator in the latter situation and became a slow oscillator when modulated by a single muscarinic agonist. To determine the relative importance of the muscarinic-dependent bursting properties of the individual pyloric neurons in the operation of the intact network, a progressive reconstruction of the synaptic circuitry was attempted. We found that under certain conditions of muscarinic modulation a new composite pacemaker could be created, composed of the electrically coupled VD, AB, and PD neurons. This can result in the generation of new pyloric patterns that were very sensitive to the membrane potential of individual network neurons. The data also confirmed that, in a rhythmic "pattern-generating network," the pacemaker role may not be definitely attributed to a given neuron but instead could be assigned to other neurons by modulation of their respective oscillatory capabilities.

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