Opioids potentiate electrical transmission at mixed synapses on the mauthner cell

Roger Cachope, Alberto E. Pereda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Opioid receptors were shown to modulate a variety of cellular processes in the vertebrate central nervous system, including synaptic transmission. While the effects of opioid receptors on chemically mediated transmission have been extensively investigated, little is known of their actions on gap junction-mediated electrical synapses. Here we report that pharmacological activation of muopioid receptors led to a long-term enhancement of electrical (and glutamatergic) transmission at identifiable mixed synapses on the goldfish Mauthner cells. The effect also required activation of both dopamine D1/5 receptors and postsynaptic cAMP-dependent protein kinase A, suggesting that opioid-evoked actions are mediated indirectly via the release of dopamine from varicosities known to be located in the vicinity of the synaptic contacts. Moreover, inhibitory inputs situated in the immediate vicinity of these excitatory synapses on the lateral dendrite of the Mauthner cell were not affected by activation of muopioid receptors, indicating that their actions are restricted to electrical and glutamatergic transmissions co-existing at mixed contacts. Thus, as their chemical counterparts, electrical synapses can be a target for the modulatory actions of the opioid system. Because gap junctions at these mixed synapses are formed by fish homologs of the neuronal connexin 36, which is widespread in mammalian brain, it is likely that this regulatory property applies to electrical synapses elsewhere as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)689-697
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 27 2015


  • Auditory
  • Connexin 35
  • Connexin 36
  • Dopamine
  • Gap junction
  • Mauthner cell
  • Teleost

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Opioids potentiate electrical transmission at mixed synapses on the mauthner cell'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this