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Can J Physiol Pharmacol. 1999 Sep;77(9):672-8.

Spatial variability in release at the frog neuromuscular junction measured with FM1-43.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, University of Colorado Medical School, Denver 80262, USA.


We quantified the spatial variability in release properties at different synaptic vesicle clusters in frog motor nerve terminals, using a combination of fluorescence and electron microscopy. Individual synaptic vesicle clusters labeled with FM1-43 varied more than 10-fold in initial intensity (integrated FM1-43 fluorescence) and in absolute rate of dye loss during tetanic electrical nerve stimulation. Most of this variability arose because large vesicle clusters spanned more than one presynaptic active zone (inferred from postsynaptic acetylcholine receptor stripes labeled with rhodamine-conjugated alpha-bungarotoxin); when the rate of dye loss was normalized to the length of receptor stripe covered, variability from spot to spot was greatly reduced. In addition, electron microscopic measurements showed that large vesicle clusters (i.e., those spanning multiple active zones) were also thicker, and the increased depth of vesicles led to increased total spot fluorescence without a corresponding increase in the rate of dye loss during stimulation. These results did not reveal the presence of "hot zones" of secretory activity.

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