Activation mechanism of a neuromodulator-gated pacemaker ionic current

Michael Gray, Daniel H. Daudelin, Jorge Golowasch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


The neuromodulator-gated current (IMI) found in the crab stomatogastric ganglion is activated by neuromodulators that are essential to induce the rhythmic activity of the pyloric network in this system.One of these neuromodulators is also known to control the correlated expression of voltage-gated ionic currents in pyloric neurons, as well as synaptic plasticity and strength.Thus understanding the mechanism by which neuromodulator receptors activate IMI should provide insights not only into how oscillations are initiated but also into how other processes, and currents not directly activated by them, are regulated.To determine what specific signaling molecules are implicated in this process, we used a battery of agonists and antagonists of common signal transduction pathways.We found that the G protein inhibitor GDPβS and the G protein activator GTPγS significantly affect IMI amplitude, suggesting that its activation is mediated by G proteins.Interestingly, when using the more specific G protein blocker pertussis toxin, we observed the expected inhibition of IMI amplitude but, unexpectedly, in a calcium-dependent fashion.We also found that antagonists of calcium- and calmodulin-associated signaling significantly reduce IMI amplitude.In contrast, we found little evidence for the role of cyclic nucleotide signaling, phospholipase C (PLC), or kinases and phosphatases, except two calmodulin-dependent kinases.In sum, these results suggest that proctolin-in-duced IMI is mediated by a G protein whose pertussis toxin sensitivity is altered by external calcium concentration and appears to depend on intracellular calcium, calmodulin, and calmodulin-activated kinases.In contrast, we found no support for IMI being mediated by PLC signaling or cyclic nucleotides. NEW & NOTEWORTHY Neuronal rhythmic activity is generated by either network-based or cell-autonomous mechanisms. In the pyloric network of decapod crustaceans, the activation of a neuromodulator-gated pacemaker current is crucial for the generation of rhythmic activity. This current is activated by several neuromodulators, including peptides and acetylcholine, presumably via metabotropic receptors. We have previously demonstrated a novel extracellular calcium-sensitive voltage-dependence mechanism of this current. We presently report that the activation mechanism depends on intracellular and extracellular calcium-sensitive components.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)595-609
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 14 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology


  • Calcium
  • Calmodulin
  • G proteins
  • Pacemaker
  • Signaling


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