Organelle calcium-derived voltage oscillations in pacemaker neurons drive the motor program for food-seeking behavior in Aplysia
eLife. 2021-06-30; 10:
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The expression of motivated behaviors depends on both external and internally-arising neural stimuli, yet the intrinsic releasing mechanisms for such variably occurring behaviors remain elusive. In isolated nervous system preparations of Aplysia, we have found that irregularly expressed cycles of motor output underlying food-seeking behavior arise from regular membrane potential oscillations of varying magnitude in an identified pair of interneurons (B63) in the bilateral buccal ganglia. This rhythmic signal, which is specific to the B63 cells, is generated by organelle-derived intracellular calcium fluxes that activate voltage-independent plasma membrane channels. The resulting voltage oscillation spreads throughout a subset of gap junction-coupled buccal network neurons and by triggering plateau potential-mediated bursts in B63, can initiate motor output driving food-seeking action. Thus, an atypical neuronal pacemaker mechanism, based on rhythmic intracellular calcium store release and intercellular propagation, can act as an autonomous intrinsic releaser for the occurrence of a motivated behavior.