Neuropeptide localization in varicosities of Aplysia sensory neurons is regulated by target and neuromodulators evoking long-term synaptic plasticity

J Neurobiol. 1996 Nov;31(3):297-308. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1097-4695(199611)31:3<297::AID-NEU3>3.0.CO;2-5.


The synapses between the sensory neuron (SN) and motor neuron of Aplysia undergo long-term functional and structural modulation with appropriate behavioral training or with applications of specific neuromodulators. Expression of molecules within the presynaptic terminals may be regulated in parallel with the changes evoked by the neuromodulators. We examined with immunocytochemical methods whether the level of sensorin, the SN-specific neuropeptide, is modulated in SN varicosities by the location of interaction with the target motor cell L7 and by applications of either 5-HT that evoke long-term facilitation or FMRFamide that evoke long-term depression of Aplysia sensorimotor connections in vitro. A significantly higher proportion of SN varicosities are sensorin positive when they are in contact with the proximal axons of L7 compared to varicosities of the same SNs in contact with distal L7 neurites. Both 5-HT and FMRFamide evoked changes in the efficacy and structure of sensorimotor connections that are accompanied by changes in the frequency of sensorin-positive varicosities contacting the axons of L7. More preexisting SN varicosities are stained after 5-HT, and fewer preexisting SN varicosities are stained after FMRFamide. These results suggest that the postsynaptic target and the neuromodulators not only regulate overall structure but also regulate the level of SN neuropeptide at synaptic sites.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aplysia
  • Axons / chemistry
  • Axons / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • FMRFamide
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects*
  • Neurons, Afferent / chemistry
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects*
  • Neurons, Afferent / ultrastructure
  • Neuropeptides / analysis*
  • Neuropeptides / pharmacology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology*
  • Serotonin / pharmacology
  • Synapses / drug effects*
  • Synapses / ultrastructure
  • Time Factors


  • Neuropeptides
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Serotonin
  • FMRFamide