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YEAR : 2001

Slow inhibitory potentials in the teleost Mauthner cell.

AUTHORS : Hatta K, Ankri N, Faber DS, Korn H.

JOURNAL : Neuroscience

In vivo recordings from Mauthner cells in adult zebrafish (Danio rerio) and goldfish (Carassius auratus) preparations with potassium chloride filled electrodes revealed a new class of long-lasting synaptic events in these cells. Their decay time constant ranged from 20 to 80ms, which is about 20 times longer than that of previously identified fast glycinergic inhibitory postsynaptic potentials in this neuron. The average time to peak of these slow events ranged from 1 to 6ms. We demonstrated that they are also inhibitory since (i) they were resistant to antagonists of the excitatory glutamatergic receptors; (ii) their amplitude was increased following chloride loading of the Mauthner cell; (iii) their reversal potential was the same as that of fast, glycinergic inhibitory postsynaptic potentials; and (iv) they produced an inhibitory shunt of the cell's membrane resistance. Furthermore, as with the fast inhibitory postsynaptic potentials, the decay time of the slow events is voltage dependent, increasing when the Mauthner cell is depolarized. However, these inhibitory postsynaptic potentials had a different pharmacological profile to the fast glycinergic ones. That is, they persisted in the presence of strychnine at doses that abolished the fast ones and they were more sensitive to bicuculline. These data are compatible with the notion that these inhibitory postsynaptic potentials are mediated by activation of a different inhibitory receptor type, and may be GABAergic. In addition, the decay time constant of the fast inhibitory postsynaptic current was shorter than the first of the two components that contribute to the bi-exponential decay reported previously for miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents in Mauthner cells of larval zebrafish. This suggests developmental modifications and/or a switch in the assembly of glycine receptor subtypes. While amplitude distributions of the fast miniature inhibitory postsynaptic potentials recorded in the presence of tetrodotoxin generally could fit with a single Gaussian function, the amplitude histograms of slow miniature events were skewed, often with multiple nearly equally spaced peaks, consistent with the synchronous release of several quantal units. These previously undescribed slow unitary inhibitory postsynaptic potentials contribute to inhibitory synaptic noise recorded in the Mauthner cells. Specifically, autocorrelation analysis revealed gamma-like rhythms (30-80Hz) in each of two phases, characterized as "noisy" and "quiet", and dominated by the fast and slow inhibitory postsynaptic potentials, respectively. The major frequencies of these two states were significantly different (i.e. around 90 and 40Hz, respectively), suggesting that the fast and slow inhibitory postsynaptic potentials are derived from different inhibitory networks. Chloride-filled Mauthner cells gradually hyperpolarized in the presence of tetrodotoxin, reflecting the effect of ongoing activity in the interneurons that produce the slow events. We conclude that this new class of inhibitory postsynaptic potentials contributes to the tonic inhibition which controls the Mauthner cell's excitability. In physiological conditions, this regulatory influence is expressed as a continuous shunt of this neuron's input resistance and responsiveness to sensory inputs.