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Title: Molecular characterization of frog vocal neurons using constellation pharmacology
Identification and characterization of neuronal cell classes in motor circuits are essential for understanding the neural basis of behavior. It is a challenging task, especially in a non-genetic model organism, to identify cell-specific expression of functional macromolecules. Here, we performed constellation pharmacology, calcium imaging of dissociated neurons to pharmacologically identify functional receptors expressed by vocal neurons in adult male and female African clawed frogs, Xenopus laevis. Previously we identified a population of vocal neurons called fast trill neurons (FTNs) in the amphibian parabrachial nucleus (PB) that express NMDA receptors and GABA and/or glycine receptors. Using constellation pharmacology, we identified four cell classes of putative fast trill neurons (pFTNs, responsive to both NMDA and GABA/glycine applications). We discovered that some pFTNs responded to the application of substance P (SP), acetylcholine (ACh), or both. Electrophysiological recordings obtained from FTNs using an ex vivo preparation verified that SP and/or ACh depolarize FTNs. Bilateral injection of ACh, SP, or their antagonists into PBs showed that ACh receptors are not sufficient but necessary for vocal production, and SP receptors play a role in shaping the morphology of vocalizations. Additionally, we discovered that the PB of adult female X. laevis also contains all the subclasses of more » neurons at a similar frequency as in males, despite their sexually distinct vocalizations. These results reveal novel neuromodulators that regulate X. laevis vocal production, and demonstrate the power of constellation pharmacology in identifying the neuronal subtypes marked by functional expression of cell-specific receptors in non-genetic model organisms. « less
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Journal of Neurophysiology
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National Science Foundation
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