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J Neurophysiol. 2006 Jan;95(1):428-52. Epub 2005 Sep 21.

Transmission between type II hair cells and bouton afferents in the turtle posterior crista.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology, Pharmacology, and Physiology, University of Chicago, 947 E. 58th St., MC 0926, Chicago, IL 60637, USA.


Synaptic activity was recorded with sharp microelectrodes during rest and during 0.3-Hz sinusoidal stimulation from bouton afferents identified by their efferent-mediated inhibitory responses. A glutamate antagonist, 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX) decreased quantal size (qsize) while lowering external Ca(2+) decreased quantal rate (qrate). Miniature excitatory postsynaptic potentials (mEPSPs) had effective durations (qdur) of 3.5-5 ms. Their timing was consistent with Poisson statistics. Mean qsizes ranged in different units from 0.25 to 0.73 mV and mean qrates from 200 to 1,500/s; there was an inverse relation across the afferent population between qrate and qsize. qsize distributions were consistent with the independent release of variable-sized quanta. Channel noise, measured during AMPA-induced depolarizations, was small compared with quantal noise. Excitatory responses were larger than inhibitory responses. Peak qrates, which could approach 3,000/s, led peak excitatory mechanical stimulation by 40 degrees . Quantal parameters varied with stimulation phase with qdur and qsize being maximal during inhibitory stimulation. Voltage modulation (vmod) was in phase with qrate and had a peak depolarization of 1.5-3 mV. On average, 80% of vmod was accounted for by quantal activity; the remaining 20% was a nonquantal component that persisted in the absence of quantal activity. The extracellular accumulation of glutamate and K(+) are potential sources of nonquantal transmission and may provide a basis for the inverse relation between qrate and qsize. Comparison of the phases of synaptic and spike activity suggests that both presynaptic and postsynaptic mechanisms contribute to variations across afferents in the timing of spikes during sinusoidal stimulation.

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