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ANNEE : 2006

Bistable behavior originating in the axon of a crustacean motor neuron.

AUTEURS : Le T, Verley DR, Goaillard JM, Messinger DI, Christie AE, Birmingham JT.

REVUE : Journal of Neurophysiology
N° Pubmed : 16291803

Both vertebrate and invertebrate motor neurons can display bistable behavior in which self-sustained tonic firing results from a brief excitatory stimulus. Induction of the bistability is usually dependent on activation of intrinsic conductances located in the somatodendritic area and is commonly sensitive to action of neuromodulators. We have observed bistable behavior in a neuromuscular preparation from the foregut of the crab Cancer borealis that consists of the gastric mill 4 (gm4) muscle and the nerve that innervates it, the dorsal gastric nerve (dgn). Nerve-evoked contractions of enhanced amplitude and long duration (>30 s) were induced by extracellular stimulation when the stimulus voltage was above a certain threshold. Intracellular and extracellular recordings showed that the large contractions were accompanied by persistent firing of the dorsal gastric (DG) motor neuron that innervates gm4. The persistent firing could be induced only by stimulating a specific region of the axon and could not be triggered by depolarizing the soma, even at current amplitudes that induced high-frequency firing of the neuron. The bistable behavior was abolished in low-Ca2+ saline or when nicardipine or flufenamic acid, blockers of L-type Ca2+ and Ca2+-activated nonselective cation currents, respectively, was applied to the axonal stimulation region of the dgn. Negative immunostaining for synapsin and synaptotagmin argued against the presence of synaptic/modulatory neuropil in the dgn. Collectively, our results suggest that bistable behavior in a motor neuron can originate in the axon and may not require the action of a locally released neuromodulator.