Rhythmic swimming activity in neurones of the isolated nerve cord of the leech.
1. Repeating bursts of motor neurone impulses have been recorded from the nerves of completely isolated nerve cords of the medicinal leech. The salient features of this burst rhythm are similar to those obtained in the semi-intact preparation during swimming. Hence the basic swimming rhythm is generated by a central oscillator. 2. Quantitative comparisons between the impulse patterns obtained from the isolated nerve cord and those obtained from a semi-intact preparation show that the variation in both dorsal to ventral motor neurone phasing and burst duration with swim cycle period differ in these two preparations. 3. The increase of intersegmental delay with period, which is a prominent feature of swimming behaviour of the intact animal, is not seen in either the semi-intact or isolated cord preparations. 4. In the semi-intact preparation, stretching the body wall or depolarizing an inhibitory motor neurone changes the burst duration of excitatory motor neurones in the same segment. In the isolated nerve cord, these manipulations also change the period of the swim cycle in the entire cord. 5. These comparisons suggest that sensory input stabilizes the centrally generated swimming rhythm, determines the phasing of the bursts of impulses from dorsal and ventral motor neurones, and matches the intersegmental delay to the cycle period so as to maintain a constant body shape at all rates of swimming. (+info)
Physiological properties and receptive fields of mechanosensory neurones in the head ganglion of the leech: comparison with homologous cells in segmental ganglia.
A study of the head ganglion of the leech was made to compare the properties of specific sensory cells in this ganglion with those of homologous neurones in the segmental ganglia. 1. In the head ganglion, cells were identified that had electrical properties, sensory modalities and adaptation properties similar to those of touch (T), pressure (P) and nociceptive (N) cells in the segmental ganglia. The cell bodies of these neurones were situated in characteristics positions that could be correlated with those in the segmental ganglia. Several lines of evidence suggested that they were primary sensory neurones. Fewer T, P and N neurones were identified in the head ganglion than would be expected from its six constituent segmental ganglia. 2. The receptive fields of identified T, P and N cells were situated on the external surface of the head and the interior of the mouth with considerable overlap. They were generally smaller in size than those situated on the main part of the body. The receptive fields were also displaced anteriorly so that some of them were situated in segments anterior to those of the innervating cells. 3. The morphology of the sensory cells in the head ganglion was studied by intracellular injection of horseradish perioxidase. The general branching characteristics of the cells and the structural appearance of their processes resembled those of homologous cells in the segmental ganglia. However, the routes taken to the periphery by some of the cells were not constant from head ganglion to head ganglion. This variability was confirmed by electrophysiological evidence, and differed from the constancy seen in segmental sensory cells. (+info)
Receptive fields, geometry and conduction block of sensory neurones in the central nervous system of the leech.
1. In segmental ganglia of the leech, the cutaneous mechanosensory neurones responding to to touch innervated the skin of their own segment and of part of the anterior and posterior adjacent segments. Each touch receptive field could be divided into three non-overlapping areas: a central part innervated by the branches of the cell which ran in the nerve roots of the ganglion containing the cell body, and anterior and posterior parts innervated by its branches which ran in the nerve roots of the anterior and posterior adjacent ganglia. 2. Impulses originating from the anterior and posterior parts of the receptive fields were susceptible to conduction block within the central nervous system when the touch cells fired repetitively at frequencies that could readily be elicited with weak mechanical stimulation. In contrast, impulses originating from the central part of the receptive fields were less susceptible to block. 3. The morphology of touch cells revealed by intracellular injection of horseradish peroxidase suggested that conduction block occurred at specific bifurcation points where small cell processes joined the main process. Different physiological experiments supported this conclusion. 4. In some touch cells, bifurcation points with particularly low safety margins of conduction operated as low-pass filters, limiting the frequency of impulses capable of invading certain branches. 5. The results suggest that mechanical stimuli which would likely be encountered by the animal can lead to conduction block within its central nervous system and as a result modify its integrative activities. (+info)
Comparison of precursor structures of the GGNG peptides derived from the earthworm Eisenia foetida and the leech Hirudo nipponia.
Earthworm and leech cDNAs encoding the GGNG peptides, a family of myotropic peptides, were cloned and examined in this study. Both of the predicted precursor proteins are of polyprotein structure and contain several putative peptides distinct from the GGNG peptides. However, the precursors show organizations distinct from each other and no sequence similarity except for the GGNG peptides. (+info)
Sensory feedback can coordinate the swimming activity of the leech.
Previous studies showed that sensory feedback from the body wall is important and sometimes critical for generating normal, robust swimming activity in leeches. In this paper, we evaluate the role of sensory feedback in intersegmental coordination using both behavioral and physiological measurements. We severed the ventral nerve cord of leeches in midbody and then made video and in situ extracellular recordings from swimming animals. Our electrophysiological recordings unequivocally demonstrate that active intersegmental coordination occurs in leeches with severed nerve cords, refuting earlier conclusions that sensory feedback cannot coordinate swimming activity. Intersegmental coordination can in fact be achieved by sensory feedback alone, without the intersegmental interactions conveyed by the nerve cord. (+info)
The planarian HOM/HOX homeobox genes (Plox) expressed along the anteroposterior axis.
In the freshwater planarian Dugesia japonica, five cDNAs for HOM/HOX homeobox genes were cloned and sequenced. Together with sequence data on HOM/HOX homeobox genes of platyhelminthes deposited in databases, comparison of the deduced amino acid sequences revealed that planarians have at least seven HOM/HOX homeobox genes, Plox1 to Plox7 (planarian HOM/HOX homeobox genes). Whole-mount in situ hybridization and RT-PCR revealed that Plox4 and Plox5 were increasingly expressed along a spatial gradient in the posterior region of intact animals. During regeneration, Plox5 was expressed only in the posterior region of regenerating body pieces, suggesting that the gene is involved in the anteroposterior patterning in planarians. Plox5 was not found to be expressed in a blastema-specific manner, which contradicts a previous report (J. R. Bayascas, E. Castillo, A. M. Munos-Marmol, and E. Salo. Development 124, 141-148, 1997). X-ray irradiation experiments showed that Plox5 was expressed at least in some cells other than neoblasts, but that the induction of Plox5 expression during regeneration might require neoblasts. (+info)
Inductive regulation of cell fusion in leech.
Cell-cell fusion is a component of many different developmental processes, but little is known about how cell-cell fusion is regulated. Here we investigate the regulation of a stereotyped cell-cell fusion event that occurs among the endodermal precursor cells of the glossiphoniid leech Helobdella robusta. We find that this fusion event is regulated inductively by a cell that does not itself fuse. We also show that biochemical arrest (by microinjection with ricin A chain or ribonuclease A) of the inducer or either of the fusion partners prevents fusion, but only if the arrest is initiated during a critical period long before the time at which fusion normally occurs. If the arrest occurs after this critical period, fusion occurs on schedule. These results suggest that both fusion partners play active roles in the process and that neither the induction nor the fusion itself requires concomitant protein synthesis. (+info)
Modulatory effects of myomodulin on the excitability and membrane currents in Retzius cells of the leech.
Ion channel modulation by the peptide myomodulin (MM) has been demonstrated in a wide variety of organisms including Aplysia, Lymnaea, and Pleurobranchaea. This neural and muscular modulation has been shown to be important for shaping and modifying behavior. In this paper, we report that MM modulates several distinct ionic channels in another species, the medicinal leech Hirudo medicinalis. Experiments have focused on the Retzius cell (R) because the R cell is a multifunction neuron that has been implicated in a number of behaviors including feeding, swimming, secretion, thermal sensing, and the touch elicited shortening reflex and its plasticity. Previous work had identified a MM-like peptide in the leech and demonstrated that this peptide modulated the excitability of the R cell. Using combined current- and voltage-clamp techniques to examine the effects of MM on the R cell, we found that in response to a step pulse, MM increased the excitability of the R cell such that the cell fires more action potentials with a shorter latency to the first action potential. We found that this effect was mediated by the activation of a Na+-mediated inward current near the cell resting membrane potential. Second, we found that MM differentially modulated the potassium currents IA and IK. No effect of MM was found on IA, whereas MM significantly reduced both the peak and steady-state amplitudes of IK by 49 +/- 2.9% and 43 +/- 7.2%, respectively (means +/- SE). Finally we found that MM reduced the amplitude of the Ca2+ current by approximately 20%. The ionic currents modulated by MM are consistent with the overall effect of MM on the cellular activity of the R cell. An understanding of the cellular mechanisms by which MM modulates the activity of the R cell should help us to better understand the roles of both MM and the R cell in a variety of behaviors in the leech. (+info)