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Neuron. 2002 May 16;34(4):613-21.

A single packet of transmitter does not saturate postsynaptic glutamate receptors.

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Department of Neurophysiology, University of Tokyo Graduate School of Medicine, 113-0033, Japan.


Neurotransmitter is stored in synaptic vesicles and released by exocytosis into the synaptic cleft. One of the fundamental questions in central synaptic transmission is whether a quantal packet of transmitter saturates postsynaptic receptors. To address this question, we loaded the excitatory transmitter L-glutamate via whole-cell recording pipettes into the giant nerve terminal, the calyx of Held, in rat brainstem slices. This caused marked potentiations of both quantal and action potential-evoked EPSCs mediated by alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) or N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. These results directly demonstrate that neither AMPA nor NMDA receptors are saturated by a single packet of transmitter, and indicate that vesicular transmitter content is an important determinant of synaptic efficacy.

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