Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program


First Advisor

Patsy S. Dickinson


A substantial factor for behavioral flexibility is modulation — largely via neuropeptides — which occurs at multiple sites including neurons, muscles, and the neuromuscular junction (NMJ). Complex modulation distributed across multiple sites provides an interesting question: does modulation at multiple locations lead to greater dynamics than one receptor site alone? The cardiac neuromuscular system of the American lobster (Homarus americanus), driven by a central pattern generator called the cardiac ganglion (CG), is a model system for peptide modulation. The peptide myosuppressin (pQDLDHVFLRFamide) has been shown in the whole heart to decrease contraction frequency, largely due to its effects on the CG, as well as increase contraction amplitude by acting on periphery of the neuromuscular system, either at the cardiac muscle, the NMJ, or both. This set of experiments addresses the location(s) at which myosuppressin exerts its effects at the periphery. To elucidate myosuppressin’s effects on the cardiac muscle, the CG was removed, and muscle contractions were stimulated with L-glutamate while superfusing myosuppressin. Myosuppressin increased glutamate-evoked contraction amplitude in the isolated muscle, suggesting that myosuppressin exerts its peripheral effects directly on the cardiac muscle. To examine effects on the NMJ, excitatory junction potentials were evoked by stimulating of the motor nerve and intracellularly recording a single muscle fiber both in control saline and in the presence of myosuppressin. Myosuppressin did not modulate the amplitude of EJPs suggesting myosuppressin acts at the muscle and not at the NMJ, to cause an increase in contraction amplitude.