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De-Miguel, FF; Vargas-Caballero, M; Garcia-Perez, E (2001)

SPREAD OF SYNAPTIC POTENTIALS THROUGH ELECTRICAL SYNAPSES IN RETZIUS NEURONES OF THE LEECH

J EXP BIOL 204(19):3241-3250
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We studied the spread of excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) through electrical synapses in Retzius neurones of the leech Haementeria officinalis. The pair of Retzius neurones in each ganglion is coupled by a non-rectifying electrical synapse. Both neurones displayed synchronous EPSPs of varying amplitudes and rise times. The kinetics of synchronous EPSPs was similar in 79% of the EPSP pairs. In the remaining 21%, one EPSP was smaller and slower than the other, suggesting its passive spread from the other neurone. The proportion of these events increased to 75% in the presence of Mg2+ in the bathing fluid. This spread of EPSPs from one neurone to another was tested by producing artificial EPSPs by current injection into the soma of one Retzius neurone. The artificial EPSPs were smaller and arrived more slowly at the soma of the coupled neurone. The coupling ratios for the EPSPs were proportional to the coupling ratio for long steady-state pulses in different neuronal pairs. Our results showed that EPSPs spread from one Retzius neurone to the other and support the idea that EPSP spread between electrically coupled neurones may contribute to the integration processes of neurones.