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J Neurophysiol. 2002 Jan;87(1):222-8.

Role of Ca(2+) in the synchronization of transmitter release at calyceal synapses in the auditory system of rat.

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Department of Physiology, Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, Kyoto 606-8501, Japan.


The synchronization of transmitter release in the synapse of the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB) is achieved during early postnatal development as a consequence of elimination of delayed asynchronous releases and appears to reflect changes in the dynamics of Ca(2+) entry and clearance. To examine the role of Ca(2+) in regulating synchronization of transmitter release in the mature synapse (after postnatal day 9, P9), we perturbed Ca(2+) dynamics systematically. Replacement of external Ca(2+) (2 mM) with Sr(2+) induced delayed asynchronous release following the major EPSC. We tried to reproduce asynchronous releases without using Sr(2+) and instead by manipulating the time course and the size of Ca(2+) transient in the presynaptic terminal, under the assumption that replacement of external Na(+) with Li(+) or application of eosin-Y would prolong the lifetime of Ca(2+) transient by reducing the rate of Ca(2+) extrusion from the terminal. With application of Li(+), Ca(2+) transient in the terminal was prolonged, the EPSC decay time course was prolonged, and the EPSC amplitude increased. However, these EPSCs were not followed by delayed asynchronous release. When Ca(2+) influx was reduced, either by partial Ca(2+) channel blockade with a low concentration of Cd(2+) or omega-agatoxin IVA, a marked asynchronous release resulted. This was further enhanced by the combined application of Li(+) or eosin-Y. These results suggest that cooperative increases of both Ca(2+) influx and Ca(2+) clearance capacities leading to a sharper Ca(2+) spike in the presynaptic terminal underlie synchronized transmitter release in the presynaptic terminal of the MNTB.

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