Active Signal Conduction through the Sensory Dendrite of a Spider Mechanoreceptor Neuron
Journal of Neuroscience
Rapid responses to sensory stimulation are crucial for survival. This must be especially true for mechanical stimuli containing temporal information, such as vibration. Sensory transduction occurs at the tips of relatively long sensory dendrites in many mechanoreceptors of both vertebrates and invertebrates, but little is known about the electrical properties of these crucial links between transduction and action potential generation. The VS-3 slit-sense organ of the spider Cupiennius salei
... ains bipolar mechanosensory neurons that allow voltage-clamp recording from the somata, whereas mechanotransduction occurs at the tips of 100-to 200-m-long sensory dendrites. We studied the properties of VS-3 sensory dendrites using three approaches. Voltage-jump experiments measured the spread of voltage outward from the soma by observing total mechanically transduced charge recovered at the soma as a function of time after a voltage jump. Frequency-response measurements between pseudorandom mechanical stimulation and somatic membrane potential estimated the passive cable properties of the dendrite for voltage spread in the opposite direction. Both of these sets of data indicated that the dendritic cable would significantly attenuate and retard a passively propagated receptor potential. Finally, current-clamp observations of receptor potentials and action potentials indicated that action potentials normally start at the distal dendrites and propagate regeneratively to the soma, reducing the temporal delay of passive conduction.