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GABAergic control of action potential propagation along axonal branches of mammalian sensory neurons
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofJournal of neuroscience ; vol. 23, no. 6.
The main axons of mammalian sensory neurons are usually viewed as passive transmitters of sensory information. However, the spindle afferents of jaw-closing muscles behave as if action potential traffic along their central axons is phasically regulated during rhythmic jaw movements. In this paper, we used brainstem slices containing the cell bodies, stem axons, and central axons of these sensory afferents to show that GABA applied to the descending central (caudal) axon often abolished antidromic action potentials that were elicited by electrical stimulation of the tract containing the caudal axons of the recorded cells. This effect ofGABAwas most often not associated with a change in membrane potential of the soma and was still present in a calcium-free medium. It was mimicked by local applications of muscimol on the axons and was blocked by bath applications of picrotoxin, suggesting activation of GABAA receptors located on the descending axon. Antidromic action potentials could also be blocked by electrical stimulation of local interneurons, and this effect was prevented by bath application of picrotoxin, suggesting that it results from the activation of GABAA receptors after the release of endogenous GABA. We suggest that blockage is caused mainly by shunting within the caudal axon and that motor command circuits use this mechanism to disconnect the rostral and caudal compartments of the central axon, which allows the two parts of the neuron to perform different functions during movement.