Altered expression of ionotropic L-Glutamate receptors in aged sensory neurons of Aplysia californica

Justin B. Greer, Edward M. Mager, Lynne A. Fieber

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The simplified nervous system of Aplysia californica (Aplysia) allows for detailed studies of physiological and molecular changes in small sets of neurons. Sensory neurons of the biting and tail withdrawal reflexes are glutamatergic and show reduced L-Glutamate current density in aged animals, making them a good candidate to study age-related changes in glutamatergic responses. To examine if changes in ionotropic L-Glu receptor (iGluR) transcription underlie reduced physiology, mRNA expression of iGluR was quantified in two sensory neuron clusters of two cohorts of Aplysia at both sexual maturity (∼8 months) and advanced age (∼12 months). Sensory neuron aging resulted in a significant overall decrease in expression of iGluR subunits in both sensory neuron clusters and cohorts. Although the individual subunits differentially expressed varied between sensory neuron clusters and different cohorts of animals, all differentially expressed subunits were downregulated, with no subunits showing significantly increased expression with age. Overall declines in transcript expression suggest that age-related declines in L-Glu responsiveness in Aplysia sensory neurons could be linked to overall declines in iGluR expression, rather than dysregulation of specific subunits. In both sensory neuron clusters tested the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subtype was expressed at significantly greater levels than other iGluR subtypes, suggesting an in vivo role for NMDAR-like receptors in Aplysia sensory neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0217300
JournalPloS one
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2019
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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