Early in metamorphic adult development, action potentials elicited from Manduca sexta antennal lobe neurons are small in amplitude, long in duration, and calcium dependent. As development proceeds, the action potential waveform becomes larger in amplitude, shorter in duration, and increasingly sodium dependent. Whole cell voltage-clamp analysis of Manduca antennal-lobe neurons in vitro has been used to identify voltage-activated currents that contribute to developmental changes in the electrical excitability of these cells. Proximal Branching neurons [putative projection (output) neurons] and Rick Rack neurons (putative local antennal-lobe interneurons) are examined in detail early (pupal stage 5) and late (pupal stage 14) in adult metamorphosis. In both cell types, four voltage-gated and two calcium-dependent ionic currents have been identified. Cell-type-specific changes in the density of sodium, calcium, and potassium currents correlate temporally with changes in cell excitability and spike waveform. Developmental changes in ionic current profiles are accompanied also by the emergence of cell-type-specific response characteristics in the cells. Together with the accompanying paper, this study provides an important foundation for examining the impact of developmental changes in electrical excitability on the growth, electrical properties and connectivity of neurons in central olfactory pathways of the moth.
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