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J Comp Physiol A. 1998 Dec;183(6):719-27.

Neurotransmitters alter the numbers of synapses and organelles in photoreceptor terminals in the lamina of the housefly, Musca domestica.

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Zoological Museum, Jagiellonian University, Kraków, Poland.


Various organelles in the lamina terminals of housefly photoreceptors exhibit daily rhythms having a circadian basis. These include changes in the numbers of photoreceptor tetrad and L2 feedback synapses, and longitudinal movements of screening pigment. Circadian information has previously been suggested to spread from the clock to the lamina via widefield cells expressing either 5-hydroxytryptamine or pigment-dispersing hormone-like immunoreactivity. We examined the action of these neuromodulators, and other candidate neurotransmitters, 4 h after injecting either the transmitter or a control into the medulla. We counted electron microscope profiles of organelles that normally exhibit circadian changes, and two types of invagination into photoreceptor terminals, capitate projections and inter-receptor invaginations. No single substance mediated the changes observed. Injected pigment-dispersing hormone peptide decreased the number of pigment granules, implicating this peptide in screening pigment migration, but produced no changes in synapse-related organelles. alpha-Aminobutyric acid exclusively decreased the number of L2 feedback synapses. Responses to other transmitters were specific, and often large, but generally not statistically significant. Histamine, for example, may decrease the number of tetrads, possibly by direct autoregulation. The results suggest that there is likely to be more than one effector in the circadian pathways to the lamina.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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