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Nat Rev Neurosci. 2007 Aug;8(8):597-609.

The sequence of events that underlie quantal transmission at central glutamatergic synapses.

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  • 1Brandeis University, Department of Biology, MS 008, 415 South Street, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454-9110, USA.


The properties of synaptic transmission were first elucidated at the neuromuscular junction. More recent work has examined transmission at synapses within the brain. Here we review the remarkable progress in understanding the biophysical and molecular basis of the sequential steps in this process. These steps include the elevation of Ca2+ in microdomains of the presynaptic terminal, the diffusion of transmitter through the fusion pore into the synaptic cleft and the activation of postsynaptic receptors. The results give insight into the factors that control the precision of quantal transmission and provide a framework for understanding synaptic plasticity.

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