The cerebral giant cell (CGC) is known to play a crucial role in the regulation of feeding response in the pond snail, Lymnaea stagnalis. However, the mechanisms of signal transduction from the CGC to the following buccal motor neurons are not clear. In the present study, we examined whether cyclic AMP (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase (PKA) contributes to enhancement of a monosynaptic connection between the presynaptic CGC and the postsynaptic buccal motor neuron 1 (B1 cell). Injection of cAMP into the CGC or inhibition of phosphodiesterase by isobutylmethylxanthine in the CGC increased the amplitude of excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) in the B1 cell, whereas no changes were detected in the electrical properties of the CGC. The synaptic enhancement in the B1 cell was completely blocked by inhibition of PKA in the CGC but did not require a de novo protein synthesis due to a PKA phosphorylation. The increase in the EPSP amplitude of B1 cell was associated with the increase in the amount of serotonin release from the CGC. These results hence provided the physiological evidence of the direct regulation of a synaptic enhancement by PKA in the CNS of L. stagnalis, indicating the completely different mechanism from that in the well-studied siphon-and gill-withdrawal reflex in Aplysia.
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