The effect of octopamine, a biogenic amine, on synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) in first instar larvae of Drosophila melanogaster was examined using the patch clamp technique. Muscle cells were voltage-clamped at -60 mV in the whole-cell configuration, and nerve-evoked excitatory junctional currents (EJCs) and miniature excitatory junctional currents (MEJCs) were recorded. Octopamine significantly decreased the mean amplitude of nerve-evoked EJCs in a dose-dependent manner and increased the failure rate. However, the mean amplitude and amplitude distribution of MEJCs were not affected by octopamine. These results suggest that octopamine is acting presynaptically. This effect was abolished by pretreatment with the octopamine receptor blocker, yohimbine. On the other hand, octopamine significantly decreased the decay time constant of MEJCs from 6.0+/-0.3 ms (mean+/-S.E., n=16) to 4.2+/-0.3 ms (n=14) (p<0.001), which might be the effect on the kinetic properties of junctional glutamate receptor channels. However, the mean open time of extrajunctional glutamate receptor channels was not changed by octopamine. Taken together, these results suggest that octopamine inhibits synaptic transmission by affecting both pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms.
Copyright 1999 Elsevier Science B. V.