The inside story: subcellular mechanisms of neuromodulation
The processes within a neuron that are subject to modulation include changes in amplitude or kinetics of the ion channels, the insertion or removal of ion channel proteins from the membrane, changes in the types of ion channels expressed or their localization within the neuron, and changes in release of neurotransmitter from the synaptic terminal. One relatively recently recognized feature of signaling pathways in neurons is that minute-to-minute variations in ion channel properties can be brought about by changing the physical association of the ion channel with its modulating elements. Finally, the activation of biochemical pathways that signal to the nucleus can produce long-term modulation of neuronal excitability by increasing or decreasing the synthesis of proteins required for ion channel expression and function. These mechanisms provide the means whereby one neuron can alter the properties of another neuron and are thus crucial for plasticity observed in the nervous system.
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