In several species of cephalopod molluscs there is good evidence for the presence of L-glutamate in the central and peripheral nervous system and evidence for both classes of ionotropic receptor, AMPA/kainate and NMDA. The best evidence for glutamate being a transmitter in cephalopods comes from pharmacological, immunohistochemical and molecular investigations on the giant fibre system in the squid stellate ganglion. These studies confirm there are AMPA/kainate-like receptors on the third-order giant axon. In the (glial) Schwann cells associated with the giant axons both classes of glutamate receptor occur. Glutamate is an excitatory transmitter in the chromatophores and in certain somatic muscles and its action is mediated primarily via AMPA/kainate-like receptors, but at some chromatophores there are NMDA-like receptors. In the statocysts the afferent crista fibres are also glutamatergic, acting at non-NMDA receptors. In the brain (of Sepia) a neuronal NOS is activated by glutamate with subsequent production of nitric oxide and elevation of cGMP levels. This signal transduction pathway is blocked by D-AP-5, a specific antagonist of the NMDA receptor. Recently immunohistochemical analysis has demonstrated (in Sepia and Octopus) the presence of NMDAR2A /B – like receptors in motor centres, in the visual and olfactory systems and in the learning system. Physiological experiments have shown that glutamatergic transmission is involved in long term potentation (LTP) in the vertical lobe of Octopus, a brain area involved in learning. This effect seems to be mediated by non-NMDA receptors. Finally in the CNS of Sepia NMDA-mediated nitration of tyrosine residues of cytoskeletal protein such as α-tubulin, has been demonstrated.
Keywords: Cephalopods, octopus, squid, cuttlefish, glutamate, NMDA receptor, AMPA receptor
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