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Lookup NU author(s): Professor Volker Straub
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Understanding central pattern generator (CPG) circuits requires a detailed knowledge of the intrinsic cellular properties of the constituent neurons. These properties are poorly understood in most CPGs because of the complexity resulting from interactions with other neurons of the circuit. This is also the case in the feeding network of the snail, Lymnaea, one of the best-characterized CPG networks. We addressed this problem by isolating the interneurons comprising the feeding CPG in cell culture, which enabled us to study their basic intrinsic electrical and pharmacological cellular properties without interference from other network components. These results were then related to the activity patterns of the neurons in the intact feeding network. The most striking finding was the intrinsic generation of plateau potentials by medial N1 (N1M) interneurons. This property is probably critical for rhythm generation in the whole feeding circuit because the N1M interneurons are known to play a pivotal role in the initiation of feeding cycles in response to food. Plateau potential generation in another cell type, the ventral N2 (N2v), appeared to be conditional on the presence of acetylcholine. Examination of the other isolated feeding CPG interneurons [lateral N1 (N1L), dorsal N2 (N2d), phasic N3 (N3p)] and the modulatory slow oscillator (SO) revealed no significant intrinsic properties in relation to pattern generation. Instead, their firing patterns in the circuit appear to be determined largely by cholinergic and glutamatergic synaptic inputs from other CPG interneurons, which were mimicked in culture by application of these transmitters. This is an example of a CPG system where the initiation of each cycle appears to be determined by the intrinsic properties of a key interneuron, N1M, but most other features of the rhythm are probably determined by network interactions.
Author(s): Straub VA; Staras K; Kemenes G; Benjamin PR
Publication type: Article
Publication status: Published
Journal: Journal of Neurophysiology
ISSN (print): 0022-3077
ISSN (electronic): 1522-1598
Publisher: American Physiological Society