Keegan Keplinger, Applied Mathematics, University of Waterloo
Modeling the switching dynamics of Aplysia bag cell neurons
The bag cell neuron clusters of the sea slug Aplysia act as a master switch, instigating a chain of downstream peptide signaling relevant to organismal reproduction. Given a sufficient stimulus, a single bag cell neuron transitions from an excitatory cell to an oscillatory cell through a series of second-messenger mechanisms. The details of such second messengers remain unclear, but major players, such as calcium, calmodulin, protein kinase A, and protein kinase C have been indicated in the transition from excitatory dynamics to oscillatory spiking. Through collaboration with experimentalists, the objective of this research project is to build a single bag cell neuron model, complete with second-messenger dynamics, and couple it to a network of similarly constructed neurons to reproduce the dynamical switching behavior of the bag cell neuron clusters.