Dopamine modulation of transient potassium current evokes phase shifts in a central pattern generator network

Ronald M. Harris-Warrick, Lisa M. Coniglio, Nobl Barazangi, John Guckenheimer, Shay Gueron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Bath application of dopamine modifies the rhythmic motor pattern generated by the 14 neuron pyloric network in the stomatogastric ganglion of the spiny lobster, Panulirus interruptus. Among other effects, dopamine excites many of the pyloric constrictor (PY) neurons to fire at high frequency and phase- advances the timing of their activity in the motor pattern. These responses arise in part from direct actions of dopamine to modulate the intrinsic electrophysiological properties of the PY cells, and can be studied in synaptically isolated neurons. The rate of rebound following a hyper- polarizing prestep and the spike frequency during a subsequent depolarization are both accelerated by dopamine. Based on theoretical simulations, Hartline (1979) suggested that the rate of postinhibitory rebound in stomatogastric neurons could vary with the amount of voltage-sensitive transient potassium current (I(A)). Consistent with this prediction, we found that dopamine evokes a net conductance decrease in synaptically isolated PY neurons. In voltage clamp, dopamine reduces I(A), specifically by reducing the amplitude of the slowly inactivating component of the current and shifting its voltage activation curve in the depolarized direction. 4-Aminopyridine, a selective blocker of I(A) in stomatogastric neurons, mimics and occludes the effects of dopamine on isolated PY neurons. A conductance-based mathematical model of the PY neuron shows appropriate changes in activity upon quantitative modification of the I(A) parameters affected by dopamine. These results demonstrate that dopamine excites and phase-advances the PY neurons in the rhythmic pyloric motor pattern at least in part by reducing the transient K+ current, I(A).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)342-358
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number1 I
StatePublished - Jan 1995
Externally publishedYes


  • I(A)
  • dopamine
  • neuromodulation
  • phase shift
  • postinhibitory rebound
  • stomatogastric ganglion
  • transient K current

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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