The Sub-Primary Range of firing is present in both cat and mouse spinal motoneurones and its relationship to force development is similar for the two species

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

In the motor system, force gradation is achieved by recruitment of motoneurons and rate modulation of their firing frequency. Classical experiments investigating the relationship between injected current to the soma during intracellular recording and the firing frequency (the I–f relation) in cat spinal motoneurons identified two clear ranges: a primary range and a secondary range. Recent work in mice, however, has identified an additional range proposed to be exclusive to rodents, the subprimary range (SPR), due to the presence of mixed mode oscillations of the membrane potential. Surprisingly, fully summated tetanic contractions occurred in mice during SPR frequencies. With the mouse now one of the most popular models to investigate motor control, it is crucial that such discrepancies between observations in mice and basic principles that have been widely accepted in larger animals are resolved. To do this, we have reinvestigated the I–f relation using ramp current injections in spinal motoneurons in both barbiturate-anesthetized and decerebrate (nonanesthetized) cats and mice. We demonstrate the presence of the SPR and mixed mode oscillations in both species and show that the SPR is enhanced by barbiturate anesthetics. Our measurements of the I–f relation in both cats and mice support the classical opinion that firing frequencies in the higher end of the primary range are necessary to obtain a full summation. By systematically varying the leg oil pool temperature (from 37°C to room temperature), we found that only at lower temperatures can maximal summation occur at SPR frequencies due to prolongation of individual muscle twitches.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT This work investigates recent revelations that mouse motoneurons behave in a fundamentally different way from motoneurons of larger animals with respect to the importance of rate modulation of motoneuron firing for force gradation. The current study systematically addresses the proposed discrepancies between mice and larger species (cats) and demonstrates that mouse motoneurons, in fact, use rate modulation as a mechanism of force modulation in a similar manner to the classical descriptions in larger animals

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number45
Pages (from-to)9741-9753
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2018

ID: 203048911