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Evidence for a direct effect of androgens upon electroreceptor tuning

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  • 33 Citations

Summary

  1. 1.

    Tuberous electroreceptors of individual wave type weakly electric fish are tuned to the fundamental frequency of that fish's electric organ discharge (EOD). EOD frequency and receptor best frequency (BF) are both lowered following systemic injection of 5-α-dihydrotestosterone (DHT). A previous study (Meyer et al. 1984) showed that the effect of DHT on the EOD generating circuitry was independent of an ongoing EOD and suggested that its effect on electroreceptor tuning was indirect, possibly mediated by the electric field. We have continued these studies to determine the factors which influence electroreceptor tuning.

  2. 2.

    Baseline recordings of EOD frequency, receptor oscillations, and single afferent tuning curves were taken. After fish were electrically silenced by spinal cord transection they were injected daily with either DHT or saline or were implanted with either DHT-filled or empty silastic capsules.

  3. 3.

    As previously reported, the EOD frequency (determined from pacemaker nucleus recordings) was lowered in DHT-treated, transected fish and increased in control fish.

  4. 4.

    Similarly, receptor tuning was lowered in the DHT-treated, silenced fish. Oscillation frequencies decreased in both treated and control groups, but significantly more in the hormone group. Single afferent best frequencies were lowered in both DHT groups and raised in their respective control groups.

  5. 5.

    In another series of experiments exogenous electric fields capable of driving receptors in a 1-to-1 phase-locked manner were placed around silenced fish. We were unable to elicit any shift in pacemaker frequency or electroreceptor tuning regardless of stimulus field geometry.

  6. 6.

    Four transected fish were injected with DHT and placed in exogenous electric fields of higher frequency than their original EOD. Even in the presence of a higher frequency electric field, DHT lowered EOD frequency and afferent BF.

  7. 7.

    We conclude that androgens produce effects both on the EOD generating circuitry, probably at the level of the pacemaker nucleus, and on electroreceptors, probably, ultimately, on receptor cell membrane conductances. These effects occur in parallel allowing the two parameters to remain well matched. In contrast to former predictions, exogenous electric fields alone appear unable to shift receptor tuning.

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Abbreviations

EOD :

electric organ discharge

ΔEODp :

normalized change in electric organ discharge frequency

BF :

best frequency

ΔBFp :

normalized change in best frequency

OSC :

receptor oscillation frequency

ΔOSCp :

normalized change in receptor oscillation frequency

DHT :

5-α-dihydrotestosterone

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Keller, C.H., Zakon, H.H. & Sanchez, D.Y. Evidence for a direct effect of androgens upon electroreceptor tuning. J. Comp. Physiol. 158, 301–310 (1986). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00603614

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Keywords

  • Good Frequency
  • Electric Organ Discharge
  • Good Frequency
  • Spinal Cord Transection
  • Respective Control Group