Reconfiguration of multiple motor networks by short- and long-term actions of an identified modulatory neuron

Eur J Neurosci. 2005 Nov;22(10):2489-502. doi: 10.1111/j.1460-9568.2005.04442.x.


The pyloric and gastric motor pattern-generating networks in the stomatogastric ganglion of the lobster Homarus gammarus are reconfigured into a new functional circuit by burst discharge in an identified pair of modulatory projection interneurons, originally named the pyloric suppressor (PS) neurons because of their inhibitory effects on pyloric network activity. Here we elucidate the actions of the PS neurons on individual members of the neighbouring gastric circuit, as well as describing their ability to alter synaptic coupling between the two networks. PS neuron firing has two distinct effects on gastric network activity: an initial short-lasting action mediated by transient inhibition of most gastric motoneurons, followed by a long-lasting circuit activation associated with a prolonged PS-evoked depolarization of the medial gastric (MG) motoneuron and the single network interneuron, Int1. These long-lasting effects are voltage-dependent, and experiments with hyperpolarizing current injection and photoablation suggest that excitation of both the MG neuron and Int1 is critical for PS-elicited gastric network rhythmicity. In parallel, PS neuron discharge persistently (lasting several minutes) enhances the strength of an inhibitory synaptic influence of the MG neuron on the pyloric dilator (PD)-anterior burster (AB) pacemaker neurons, thereby facilitating operational fusion of the two networks. Therefore, a single modulatory neuron may influence disparate populations of neurons via a range of very different and highly target-specific mechanisms: conventional transient synaptic drive and up- or down-modulation of membrane properties and synaptic efficacy. Moreover, distinctly different time courses of these actions allow different circuit configurations to be specified sequentially by a given modulatory input.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axonal Transport / physiology
  • Efferent Pathways / physiology*
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Electrophysiology
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / physiology
  • Interneurons / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Nephropidae / physiology*
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Stomach / innervation
  • Stomach / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology