Cholinergic calcium responses in cultured antennal lobe neurons of the migratory locust
Locusts are advantageous organisms to elucidate mechanisms of olfactory coding at the systems level. Sensory input is provided by the olfactory receptor neurons of the antenna, which send their axons into the antennal lobe. So far, cellular properties of neurons isolated from the circuitry of the olfactory system, such as transmitter-induced calcium responses, have not been studied. Biochemical and immunocytochemical investigations have provided evidence for acetylcholine as classical transmitter of olfactory receptor neurons. Here, we characterize cell cultured projection and local interneurons of the antennal lobe by cytosolic calcium imaging to cholinergic stimulation. We bulk loaded the indicator dye Cal-520 AM in dissociated culture and recorded calcium transients after applying cholinergic agonists and antagonists. The majority of projection and local neurons respond with increases in calcium levels to activation of both nicotinic and muscarinic receptors. In local interneurons, we reveal interactions lasting over minutes between intracellular signaling pathways, mediated by muscarinic and nicotinic receptor stimulation. The present investigation is pioneer in showing that Cal-520 AM readily loads Locusta migratoria neurons, making it a valuable tool for future research in locust neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, and neurodevelopment.