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Neuropeptides are important modulators of neural activity, allowing neural networks, such as the central pattern generators (CPGs) that control rhythmic movements, to alter their output and thus generate behavioral flexibility. Isoforms of a neuropeptide family vary in physical structure, allowing potentially distinct functional neuromodulatory effects on CPG systems. While some familial neuropeptide isoforms can differentially affect a system, others in the same family may elicit indistinguishable effects. Here, we examined the effects elicited by members of a novel family of six peptide hormone isoforms (GSEFLamides: I-, M-, AL-, AM-, AV-, and VM-GSEFLamide) on the pyloric filter and gastric mill CPGs in the stomatogastric nervous system (STNS) of the American lobster, Homarus americanus. Recent unpublished work from the Dickinson lab found that five of the six GSEFLamides elicited similar increases in contraction amplitude when perfused through the isolated lobster heart, while one (AVGSEFLamide) had virtually no effect. Using extracellular recordings, we found the pattern of GSEFLamide effects on the STNS gastric mill to be similar to the pattern observed in the lobster cardiac system; the gastric mill circuit was fairly consistently activated by all isoforms except AVGSEFLamide. The intrinsically active pyloric pattern was also significantly enhanced by three out of five peptide isoforms, and nearly significantly enhanced by two more, but was likewise non-responsive to AVGSEFLamide. While the reason AVGSEFLamide had no effect on either pattern is unknown, the similar phenomenon noted in the isolated whole heart potentially indicates that this isoform lacks any function in the lobster.
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