Understanding the neuronal networks in the mammal spinal cord is hampered by the diversity of neurons and their connections. The simpler networks in developing lower vertebrates may offer insights into basic organization. To investigate the function of spinal inhibitory interneurons in Xenopus tadpoles, paired whole-cell recordings were used.We show directly that one class of interneuron, with distinctive anatomy, produces lycinergic, negative feedback inhibition that can limit firing in motoneurons and interneurons of the
central pattern generator during swimming. These same neurons also produce inhibitory gating of sensory pathways during swimming.
This discovery raises the possibility that some classes of interneuron, with distinct functions later in development, may differentiate from an earlier class in which these functions are shared. Preliminary evidence suggests that these inhibitory interneurons express the transcription factor engrailed, supporting a probable homology with interneurons in developing zebrafish that also express engrailed and have very similar anatomy and functions.
Publisher: Society for Neuroscience
Rose publication type: Article
Sponsorship: Wellcome Trust
- spinal cord, locomotion, glycine, inhibition, spinal, interneuron, transcription