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J Neurophysiol. 1999 Jan;81(1):29-38.

Dopamine modulates two potassium currents and inhibits the intrinsic firing properties of an identified motor neuron in a central pattern generator network.

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Section of Neurobiology and Behavior, Seeley G. Mudd Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853, USA.


The two pyloric dilator (PD) neurons are components [along with the anterior burster (AB) neuron] of the pacemaker group of the pyloric network in the stomatogastric ganglion of the spiny lobster Panulirus interruptus. Dopamine (DA) modifies the motor pattern generated by the pyloric network, in part by exciting or inhibiting different neurons. DA inhibits the PD neuron by hyperpolarizing it and reducing its rate of firing action potentials, which leads to a phase delay of PD relative to the electrically coupled AB and a reduction in the pyloric cycle frequency. In synaptically isolated PD neurons, DA slows the rate of recovery to spike after hyperpolarization. The latency from a hyperpolarizing prestep to the first action potential is increased, and the action potential frequency as well as the total number of action potentials are decreased. When a brief (1 s) puff of DA is applied to a synaptically isolated, voltage-clamped PD neuron, a small voltage-dependent outward current is evoked, accompanied by an increase in membrane conductance. These responses are occluded by the combined presence of the potassium channel blockers 4-aminopyridine and tetraethylammonium. In voltage-clamped PD neurons, DA enhances the maximal conductance of a voltage-sensitive transient potassium current (IA) and shifts its Vact to more negative potentials without affecting its Vinact. This enlarges the "window current" between the voltage activation and inactivation curves, increasing the tonically active IA near the resting potential and causing the cell to hyperpolarize. Thus DA's effect is to enhance both the transient and resting K+ currents by modulating the same channels. In addition, DA enhances the amplitude of a calcium-dependent potassium current (IO(Ca)), but has no effect on a sustained potassium current (IK(V)). These results suggest that DA hyperpolarizes and phase delays the activity of the PD neurons at least in part by modulating their intrinsic postinhibitory recovery properties. This modulation appears to be mediated in part by an increase of IA and IO(Ca). IA appears to be a common target of DA action in the pyloric network, but it can be enhanced or decreased in different ways by DA in different neurons.

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