A switch between two modes of synaptic transmission mediated by presynaptic inhibition

Nature. 1995 Nov 30;378(6556):502-5. doi: 10.1038/378502a0.


Presynaptic inhibition reduces chemical synaptic transmission in the central nervous system between pairs of neurons, but its role(s) in shaping the multisynaptic interactions underlying neural network activity are not well studied. We therefore used the crustacean stomatogastric nervous system to study how presynaptic inhibition of the identified projection neuron, modulatory commissural neuron 1 (MCN1), influences the MCN1 synaptic effects on the gastric mill neural network. Tonic MCN1 discharge excites gastric mill network neurons and activates the gastric mill rhythm. One network neuron, the lateral gastric (LG) neuron, presynaptically inhibits MCN1 and is electrically coupled to its terminals. We show here that this presynaptic inhibition selectively reduces or eliminates transmitter-mediated excitation from MCN1 without reducing its electrically mediated excitatory effects, thereby switching the network neurons excited by MCN1. By switching the type of synaptic output from MCN1 and, hence, the activated network neurons, this presynaptic inhibition is pivotal to motor pattern generation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetates / pharmacology
  • Acetic Acid
  • Action Potentials
  • Animals
  • Brachyura
  • Ganglia, Invertebrate / physiology
  • Male
  • Nerve Net / physiology
  • Neural Inhibition / physiology*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Acetates
  • Acetic Acid