Potassium currents play key roles in regulating motoneuron activity, including functional specializations that are important for locomotion. The thoracic and abdominal segments in the Drosophila larval ganglion have repeated arrays of motoneurons that innervate body-wall muscles used for peristaltic movements during crawling. Although abdominal motoneurons and their muscle targets have been studied in detail, owing, in part, to their involvement in locomotion, little is known about the cellular properties of motoneurons in thoracic segments. The goal of this study was to compare firing properties among thoracic motoneurons and the potassium currents that influence them. Whole-cell, patch-clamp recordings performed from motoneurons in two thoracic and one abdominal segment revealed both transient and sustained voltage-activated K + currents, each with Ca ++-sensitive and Ca ++-insensitive [A-type, voltage-dependent transient K + current (I Av)] components. Segmental differences in the expression of voltageactivated K + currents were observed. In addition, we demonstrate that Shal contributes to I Av currents in the motoneurons of the first thoracic segment.
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