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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Serotonin increases intracellular Ca2+ transients in voltage-clamped sensory neurons of Aplysia californica.

Noxious stimulation of the tail of Aplysia californica produces behavioral sensitization; it enhances several related defensive reflexes. This reflex enhancement involves heterosynaptic facilitation of transmitter release from sensory neurons of the reflex. The facilitation is stimulated by serotonin (5-HT) and involves suppression of a 5-HT-sensitive K+ current (the S current). Suppression of the S current broadens the action potential of the sensory neurons and is thought to enhance transmitter release by prolonging entry of Ca2+ in the presynaptic terminals. We now report a component of enhanced Ca2+ accumulation that is independent of changes in spike shape. We have measured intracellular free Ca2+ transients during long depolarizing steps in voltage-clamped sensory neuron cell bodies injected with the Ca2+-sensitive dye arsenazo III. The free Ca2+ transients elicited by a range of depolarizing voltage-clamp steps increase in amplitude by 75% following application of 5-HT. Since it is observed under voltage-clamp conditions, this increase in the free Ca2+ transients is not merely secondary to the changes in K+ current but must reflect an additional mechanism, an intrinsic change in the handling of Ca2+ by the cell. We have not yet determined whether this change in Ca2+ handling reflects an increase in Ca2+ influx, a reduction in intracellular Ca2+ uptake, or a release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores. Regardless of the underlying mechanism, however, it seems possible that the enhancement of Ca2+ accumulation and the reduction in K+ current act synergistically in producing short-term presynaptic facilitation. Alternatively, this additional modulation of Ca2+ by 5-HT might contribute to processes such as classical conditioning or long-term sensitization that may depend on Ca2+.[1]


  1. Serotonin increases intracellular Ca2+ transients in voltage-clamped sensory neurons of Aplysia californica. Boyle, M.B., Klein, M., Smith, S.J., Kandel, E.R. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. (1984) [Pubmed]
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