Molecular tuning of electroreception in sharks and skates

Molecular tuning of electroreception in sharks and skates Ancient cartilaginous vertebrates, such as sharks, skates and rays, possess specialized electrosensory organs that detect weak electric fields and relay this information to the central nervous system 1–4 . Sharks exploit this sensory modality for predation, whereas skates may also use it to detect signals from conspecifics 5 . Here we analyse shark and skate electrosensory cells to determine whether discrete physiological properties could contribute to behaviourally relevant sensory tuning. We show that sharks and skates use a similar low threshold voltage-gated calcium channel to initiate cellular activity but use distinct potassium channels to modulate this activity. Electrosensory cells from sharks express specially adapted voltage-gated potassium channels that support large, repetitive membrane voltage spikes capable of driving near-maximal vesicular release from elaborate ribbon synapses. By contrast, skates use a calcium-activated potassium channel to produce small, tunable membrane voltage oscillations that elicit stimulus-dependent vesicular release. We propose that these sensory adaptations support amplified indiscriminate signal detection in sharks compared with selective frequency detection in skates, potentially reflecting the electroreceptive requirements of these elasmobranch species. Our findings demonstrate how sensory systems adapt to suit the lifestyle or environmental niche of an animal through discrete molecular and biophysical modifications. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Nature Springer Journals

Molecular tuning of electroreception in sharks and skates

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Publisher
Nature Publishing Group UK
Copyright
Copyright © 2018 by Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature
Subject
Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, Humanities and Social Sciences, multidisciplinary; Science, multidisciplinary
ISSN
0028-0836
eISSN
1476-4687
D.O.I.
10.1038/s41586-018-0160-9
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Ancient cartilaginous vertebrates, such as sharks, skates and rays, possess specialized electrosensory organs that detect weak electric fields and relay this information to the central nervous system 1–4 . Sharks exploit this sensory modality for predation, whereas skates may also use it to detect signals from conspecifics 5 . Here we analyse shark and skate electrosensory cells to determine whether discrete physiological properties could contribute to behaviourally relevant sensory tuning. We show that sharks and skates use a similar low threshold voltage-gated calcium channel to initiate cellular activity but use distinct potassium channels to modulate this activity. Electrosensory cells from sharks express specially adapted voltage-gated potassium channels that support large, repetitive membrane voltage spikes capable of driving near-maximal vesicular release from elaborate ribbon synapses. By contrast, skates use a calcium-activated potassium channel to produce small, tunable membrane voltage oscillations that elicit stimulus-dependent vesicular release. We propose that these sensory adaptations support amplified indiscriminate signal detection in sharks compared with selective frequency detection in skates, potentially reflecting the electroreceptive requirements of these elasmobranch species. Our findings demonstrate how sensory systems adapt to suit the lifestyle or environmental niche of an animal through discrete molecular and biophysical modifications.

Journal

NatureSpringer Journals

Published: May 30, 2018

References

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