Anti-GABA antibodies label a subpopulation of chemical synapses which modulate an electrical synapse in crayfish

B. Leitch, W. J. Heitler*, J. L.S. Cobb, R. M. Pitman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Antibodies raised against gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) were used to stain sections from the crayfish abdominal nervous system, and the sections were examined under the electron microscope using a protein-A/gold conjugate secondary label. Sections were taken through the third ganglionic root, and through the interganglionic connective at the base of the third root posterior to the ganglia. The third root contains two very large motor axons, a non-GABAergic excitor (Motor Giant; MoG), and a GABAergic inhibitor (Flexor Inhibitor; FI). Only one of the two large axons stained positively for GABA, confirming that the antibody has high specificity for GABAergic neurones. The MoG is driven by powerful electrical synapses from the giant fibres, but also receives inhibitory chemical synaptic input which can gate the excitatory input. There is no physiological evidence for any other form of chemical input. However, at the ultrastructural level, the MoG is postsynaptic to three types of chemical profiles; SE-type containing round agranular vesicles, SI-type containing pleomorphic vesicles, and SM-type containing a mixture of round agranular and dense-cored vesicles. There is a highly differentiated staining pattern of these three synaptic types. Only the SI-type profiles stain positively with the GABA antibody, while the SE- and SM-type do not show significant staining. This suggests that the MoG can under some circumstances receive chemical input other than GABAergic inhibitory input. These other types of input have yet to be physiologically identified.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)929-936
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Neurocytology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1990


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