Proprioceptive neurons monitor the movements of limbs and joints to transduce the movements into electrical signals. These neurons function similarly in species from arthropods to humans. These neurons can be compromised in disease states and in adverse environmental conditions such as with changes in external and internal pH. We used two model preparations (the crayfish muscle receptor organ and a chordotonal organ in the limb of a crab) to characterize the responses of these proprioceptors to external and internal pH changes as well as raised CO2. The results demonstrate the proprioceptive organs are not highly sensitive to changes in extracellular pH, when reduced to 5.0 from 7.4. However, if intracellular pH is decreased by exposure to propionic acid or saline containing CO2, there is a rapid decrease in firing rate in response to joint movements. The responses recover quickly upon reintroduction of normal pH (7.4) or saline not tainted with CO2. These basic understandings may help to address the mechanistic properties of mechanosensitive receptors in other organisms, such as muscle spindles in skeletal muscles of mammals and tactile as well as pressure (i.e., blood pressure) sensory receptors.

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Published in the American Journal of Undergraduate Research, v. 14, issue 3, p. 85-99.

The American Journal of Undergraduate Research has granted the permission for posting the article here.

Funding Information

This work was funded by student laboratory fees for a course taught in Department of Biology, University of Kentucky and personal funds (RLC).