Effect of temperature change on synaptic transmission at crayfish neuromuscular junctions

Yuechen Zhu, Leo De Castro, Robin Lewis Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Ectothermic animals in areas characterised by seasonal changes are susceptible to extreme fluctuations in temperature. To survive through varied temperatures, ectotherms have developed unique strategies. This study focuses on synaptic transmission function at cold temperatures, as it is a vital component of ectothermic animals’ survival. For determining how synaptic transmission is influenced by an acute change in temperature (20°C to 10°C within a minute) and chronic cold (10°C), the crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) neuromuscular junction (NMJ) was used as a model. To simulate chronic cold conditions, crayfish were acclimated to 15°C for 1 week and then to 10°C for 1 week. They were then used to examine the synaptic properties associated with the low output nerve terminals on the opener muscle in the walking legs and high output innervation on the abdominal deep extensor muscle. The excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) of the opener NMJs increased in amplitude with acute warming (20°C) after being acclimated to cold; however, the deep extensor muscles showed varied changes in EPSP amplitude. Synaptic transmission at both NMJs was enhanced with exposure to the modulators serotonin or octopamine. The membrane resistance of the muscles decreased 33% and the resting membrane potential hyperpolarised upon warm exposure. Analysis of haemolymph indicated that octopamine increases during cold exposure. These results suggest bioamine modulation as a possible mechanism for ensuring that synaptic transmission remains functional at low temperatures.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbio037820
JournalBiology Open
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.


  • Adaptation
  • Crustacean
  • Invertebrates
  • Modulation
  • Synaptic transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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