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WM Keck Science

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Distinct motor patterns are selected from a multifunctional neuronal network by activation of different modulatory projection neurons. Subsets of these projection neurons can contain the same neuromodulator(s), yet little is known about the relative influence of such neurons on network activity. We have addressed this issue in the stomatogastric nervous system of the crab Cancer borealis. Within this system, there is a neuronal network in the stomatogastric ganglion (STG) that produces many versions of the pyloric and gastric mill rhythms. These different rhythms result from activation of different projection neurons that innervate the STG from neighboring ganglia and modulate STG network activity. Three pairs of these projection neurons contain the neuropeptide proctolin. These include the previously identified modulatory proctolin neuron and modulatory commissural neuron 1 (MCN1) and the newly identified modulatory commissural neuron 7 (MCN7). We document here that each of these neurons contains a unique complement of cotransmitters and that each of these neurons elicits a distinct version of the pyloric motor pattern. Moreover, only one of them (MCN1) also elicits a gastric mill rhythm. The MCN7-elicited pyloric rhythm includes a pivotal switch by one STG network neuron from playing a minor to a major role in motor pattern generation. Therefore, modulatory neurons that share a peptide transmitter can elicit distinct motor patterns from a common target network.


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