Hopkins Marine Station Student Paper

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(full paper is archived in the Miller Library)

Title: The effect of heat shock on the neurons in the head ganglia of Doriopsilla albopunctata
Student Author(s): Laponis, Ryan
Faculty Advisor(s): Thompson, Stuart
Pages: 21
Location: Final Papers Biology 176H
Date: June 2001
Abstract: The opening and closing of ion channels within the membrane of a neuron allows for the flow of specific ions into and out of a cell. The flow of ions through membrane channels creates current and this changes the voltage across the cell membrane. These changes in voltage create the action potentials responsible for the propagation of neural signals. If the number of ion channels changes or the kinetics of individual channels change, the currents through the membrane will be altered and hence change the excitability the cell. Here I report changes in potassium conductance within the neurons of Doriopsilla albopunctata after treatment and recovery from a thirty-minute heat shock at 30° C. By using a voltage clamp, currents of individual cells were characterized. The cells were heat shocked and characterized again using the same stimulation regime. Significant increases in potassium conductance were observed within many, although not all, cells. In such cases, a novel current was found to be responsible for the change in potassum conductance. I conclude that heat shock affects either the expression of channels in the cell membrane or the kinetics of pre-existing ion channels, but only in some neurons. What cellular mechanism was responsible for this change and what specifically it changes, remains to be seen.