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Cholinergic transmission at mechanosensory afferents in the crayfish terminal abdominal ganglion


Electrical stimulation of mechanosensory afferents innervating hairs on the surface of the exopodite in crayfish Procambarus clarkii (Girard) elicited reciprocal activation of the antagonistic set of uropod motor neurones. The closer motor neurones were excited while the opener motor neurones were inhibited. This reciprocal pattern of activity in the uropod motor neurones was also produced by bath application of acetylcholine (ACh) and the cholinergic agonist, carbamylcholine (carbachol). The closing pattern of activity in the uropod motor neurones produced by sensory stimulation was completely eliminated by bath application of the ACh blocker, d-tubocurarine, though the spontaneous activity of the motor neurones was not affected significantly. Bath application of the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, neostigmine, increased the amplitude and extended the time course of excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) of ascending interneurones elicited by sensory stimulation. These results strongly suggest that synaptic transmission from mechanosensory afferents innervating hairs on the surface of the tailfan is cholinergic.

Bath application of the cholinergic antagonists, dtubocurarine (vertebrate nicotinic antagonist) and atropine (muscarinic antagonist) reversibly reduced the amplitude of EPSPs in many identified ascending and spiking local interneurones during sensory stimulation. Bath application of the cholinergic agonists, nicotine (nicotinic agonist) and oxotremorine (muscarinic agonist) also reduced EPSP amplitude. Nicotine caused a rapid depolarization of membrane potential with, in some cases, spikes in the interneurones. In the presence of nicotine, interneurones showed almost no response to the sensory stimulation, probably owing to desensitization of postsynaptic receptors. On the other hand, no remarkable changes in membrane potential of interneurones were observed after oxotremorine application. These results suggest that ACh released from the mechanosensory afferents depolarizes interneurones by acting on receptors similar to vertebrate nicotinic receptors.

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ACh :


mns :

motor neurones

asc int :

ascending interneurone


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Ushizawa, T., Nagayama, T. & Takahata, M. Cholinergic transmission at mechanosensory afferents in the crayfish terminal abdominal ganglion. J Comp Physiol A 179, 1–13 (1996).

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Key words

  • Crayfish
  • Ascending interneurones
  • Spiking local interneurones
  • Ach
  • Sensory