Journal of Neurophysiology

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Inhibitory responses in Aplysia pleural sensory neurons act to block excitability, transmitter release, and PKC Apl II activation

Tyler W. Dunn, Carole A. Farah, Wayne S. Sossin


Expression of the 5-HT1Apl(a) receptor in Aplysia pleural sensory neurons inhibited 5-HT-mediated translocation of the novel PKC Apl II in sensory neurons and prevented PKC-dependent synaptic facilitation at sensory to motoneuron synapses (Nagakura et al. 2010). We now demonstrate that the ability of inhibitory receptors to block PKC activation is a general feature of inhibitory receptors and is found after expression of the 5-HT1Apl(b) receptor and with activation of endogenous dopamine and FMRFamide receptors in sensory neurons. Pleural sensory neurons are heterogeneous for their inhibitory response to endogenous transmitters, with dopamine being the most prevalent, followed by FMRFamide, and only a small number of neurons with inhibitory responses to 5-HT. The inhibitory response is dominant, reduces membrane excitability and synaptic efficacy, and can reverse 5-HT facilitation at both naive and depressed synapses. Indeed, dopamine can reverse PKC translocation during the continued application of 5-HT. Reversal of translocation can also be seen after translocation mediated by an analog of diacylglycerol, suggesting inhibition is not through blockade of diacylglycerol production. The effects of inhibition on PKC translocation can be rescued by phosphatidic acid, consistent with the inhibitory response involving a reduction or block of production of this lipid. However, phosphatidic acid could not recover PKC-dependent synaptic facilitation due to an additional inhibitory effect on the non-L-type calcium flux linked to synaptic transmission. In summary, we find a novel mechanism downstream of inhibitory receptors linked to inhibition of PKC activation in Aplysia sensory neurons.

  • membrane excitability
  • synapse
  • calcium
  • dopamine
  • serotonin
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