Synaptic augmentation contributes to environment-driven regulation of the aplysia siphon-withdrawal reflex

Calin-Jageman RJ, Fischer TM

J. Neurosci. 2003 Dec;23(37):11611-20

PMID: 14684863


This research shows that short-term synaptic plasticity can play a critical role in shaping the behavioral response to environmental change. In Aplysia, exposure to turbulent environments produces a stable reduction in the duration of the siphon-withdrawal reflex (SWR) and the responsiveness of siphon motor neurons. Recovery takes >1 min after a brief (10 sec-5 min) exposure but <1 min after a long (10 min) exposure. Here we demonstrate that (1) in-turbulence and post-turbulence phases of regulation depend on different cellular processes and (2) the post-turbulence phase of regulation is mediated by augmentation (AUG), an activity-dependent form of short-term synaptic plasticity. In reduced preparations (tail, siphon, and CNS), we show that treatment with 100 microm d-tubocurarine has no effect on in-turbulence regulation but blocks up to 90% of post-turbulence regulation, indicating that these phases of regulation are mediated by distinct cellular process. We then show that (1) turbulence induces activity in L30 inhibitory interneurons, (2) this activation produces AUG that lasts 1 min after a brief exposure to turbulence, and (3) manipulations that attenuate L30 AUG also attenuate regulation after brief turbulence. We also found that long (10 min) exposures to turbulence do not produce a post-turbulence phase of regulation because L30 activity declines over the course of a long turbulence exposure, leading to the decay of AUG before turbulence offset. Our results demonstrate a specific behavioral function of AUG and show how interactions between cellular processes can confer temporal sensitivity in the network regulation of behavior.

Temporal and spatial aspects of an environmental stimulus influence the dynamics of behavioral regulation of the Aplysia siphon-withdrawal response

Calin-Jageman RJ, Fischer TM

Behav. Neurosci. 2003 Jun;117(3):555-65

PMID: 12802884


Exposure to turbulence, an environmental stimulus, produces behavioral adaptation in the Aplysia siphon-withdrawal response (SWR). The authors show that the duration and spatial extent of turbulence influence adaptation recovery. In terms of duration, recovery in whole animals and reduced preparations (tail, siphon, and CNS) was more rapid after longer exposures to turbulence (10 min) than after briefer exposures (10 s-5 min). In terms of spatial extent, recovery in reduced preparations was more rapid after diffuse turbulence (tail and siphon together) compared with focal turbulence (siphon alone). Furthermore, spatial extent and duration interact: Duration regulates recovery only when turbulence is diffuse. Results suggest that SWR adaptation reflects a composite of cellular processes, including short-term synaptic enhancement in L30 inhibitory interneurons.

Characterization of a chlorella virus PBCV-1 encoded ribonuclease III

Zhang Y, Calin-Jageman I, Gurnon JR, Choi TJ, Adams B, Nicholson AW, Van Etten JL

Virology 2003 Dec;317(1):73-83

PMID: 14675626


Sequence analysis of the 330-kb genome of chlorella virus PBCV-1 revealed an open reading frame, A464R, which encodes a protein with 30-35% amino acid identity to ribonuclease III (RNase III) from many bacteria. The a464r gene was cloned and the protein was expressed in Escherichia coli using the chitin-binding intein system. The recombinant PBCV-1 RNase III cleaves model dsRNA substrates, in a Mg(2+)-dependent manner, into a defined set of products. The substrate cleavage specificity overlaps, but is nonidentical to that of E. coli RNase III. The a464r gene is expressed very early during PBCV-1 infection, within 5-10 min p.i. The RNase III protein appears at 15 min p.i. and disappears by 120 min p.i. The a464r gene is highly conserved among the chlorella viruses. Phylogenetic analyses indicate that the PBCV enzyme is most closely related to Mycoplasma pneumoniae RNase III.