Proprioception of all animals is important in being able to have coordinated locomotion. Stretch activated ion channels (SACs) transduce the mechanical force into electrical signals in the proprioceptive sensory endings. The types of SACs vary among sensory neurons in animals as defined by pharmacological, physiological and molecular identification. The chordotonal organs within insects and crustaceans offer a unique ability to investigate proprioceptive function. The effects of the extracellular environment on neuronal activity, as well as the function of associated SACs are easily accessible and viable in minimal saline for ease in experimentation. The effect of extracellular [Ca2+] on membrane properties which affect voltage-sensitivity of ion channels, threshold of action potentials and SACs can be readily addressed in the chordotonal organ in crab limbs. It is of interest to understand how low extracellular [Ca2+] enhances neural activity considering the SACs in the sensory endings could possibly be Ca2+ channels and that all neural activity is blocked with Mn2+. It is suggested that axonal excitability might be affected independent from the SAC activity due to potential presence of calcium activated potassium channels (K(Ca)) and the ability of Ca2+ to block voltage gated Na+ channels in the axons. Separating the role of Ca2+ on the function of the SACs and the excitability of the axons in the nerves associated with chordotonal organs is addressed. These experiments may aid in understanding the mechanisms of neuronal hyperexcitability during hypocalcemia within mammals.

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Published in NeuroSci, v. 2, issue 4.

© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).

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Research reported in this publication was supported by an Institutional Development Award (IDeA) from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences of the National Institutes of Health under grant number P20GM103436 (H.N.T.). University of Kentucky Neuroscience Research Priority Area and College of Arts and Sciences Summer Research Fellowship to N.P. Chellgren Endowed Funding to R.L.C.

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The data presented in this study are available on request from the corresponding author. The data are not publicly available due to requiring specific software to view the data files. Most of the data are presented within this publication in the line graphs.