Bidirectional modulation of visual plasticity by cholinergic receptor subtypes in the frog optic tectum

Chuan Jiang Yu, Christopher M. Butt, Elizabeth A. Debski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Cholinergic input to the optic tectum is necessary for visual map maintenance. To understand why, we examined the effects of activation of the different cholinergic receptor subtypes in tectal brain slices and determined whether the retinotectal map was affected by manipulations of their activity in vivo Both α-bungarotoxin sensitive and insensitive nicotinic receptor agonists increased spontaneous postsynaptic currents (sPSCs) in a subpopulation of patch-clamped tectal cells; application of subtype selective receptor antagonists reduced nicotine-induced increases in sPSCs. Activation of α-bungarotoxin insensitive nicotinic receptors also induced substantial inward current in some cells. Muscarinic receptor mediated outward current responses were blocked by the M2-like muscarinic receptor antagonists himbacine or AF-DX 384 and mimicked by application of the M2-like agonist oxotremorine. A less frequently observed muscarinic response involving a change in sPSC frequency appeared to be mediated by M1-like muscarinic receptors. In separate experiments, pharmacological manipulation of cholinergic receptor subtype activation led to changes in the activity-dependent visual map created in the tectum by retinal ganglion cell terminals. Chronic exposure of the tectum to either α-bungarotoxin insensitive, α-bungarotoxin sensitive or M1-like receptor antagonists resulted in map disruption. However, treatment with the M2-like receptor antagonist, AF-DX 384, compressed the map. We conclude that nicotinic or M1-like muscarinic receptors control input to tectal cells while α-bungarotoxin insensitive nicotinic receptors and M2-like muscarinic receptors change tectal cell responses to that input. Blockade of the different cholinergic receptor subtypes can have opposing effects on map topography that are consistent with expected effects on tectal cell activity levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1253-1265
Number of pages13
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - Mar 2003


  • Muscarinic
  • Nicotinic
  • Rana pipiens
  • Retinotectal
  • Topographic map

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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