Cercal sensory neurons in the cricket innervate interneurons in the central nervous system (CNS) and provide a model system for studying the formation of central synapses. When axons of the sensory neurons were transected during larval development, the cell bodies and the soma-bearing portion of axons, which are located within the cercus, survived but lost their excitability for 9-10 days. During this period, the sensory neurons grew new axons and reinnervated the terminal abdominal ganglion. Physiological recordings showed that sensory neurons of known identity reestablished monosynaptic contacts with their normal postsynaptic interneuron. Moreover, each synapse exhibited a characteristic strength indistinguishable from the intact synapse in an unoperated cricket. Since this selective connectivity was apparent immediately after the excitability of the axotomized sensory neurons was restored, action potentials in the sensory neurons appear to be unnecessary for normal synaptic regeneration to occur. Consistent with this, the reinnervation process was unaffected even when action potentials in the sensory neurons were blocked by tetrodotoxin (TTX) immediately following axotomy until just before testing. During the normal course of development, the characteristic strength of individual synapses changes systematically, resulting in the developmental rearrangement of these synapses (Chiba et al., 1988). This synaptic rearrangement was also unaffected when action potentials in the sensory neurons were blocked by TTX for the last 30% of larval development. Therefore, in the cricket cercal sensory system, both regeneration of the central synapses following axotomy of the presynaptic sensory neurons and the normal rearrangement of connectivity during larval development appear not to require axonal action potentials.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience