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Learn Mem. 2005 Jul-Aug;12(4):414-22.

Calcium-activated proteases are critical for refilling depleted vesicle stores in cultured sensory-motor synapses of Aplysia.

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Department of Neurobiology, The Life Sciences Institute, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel.


Aplysia motoneurons cocultured with a presynaptic sensory neuron exhibit homosynaptic depression when stimulated at low frequencies. A single bath application of serotonin (5HT) leads within seconds to facilitation of the depressed synapse. The facilitation is attributed to mobilization of neurotransmitter-containing vesicles from a feeding vesicle store to the depleted, readily releasable pool by protein kinase C (PKC). Here, we demonstrate that the calpain inhibitors, calpeptin, MG132, and ALLN, but not the proteasome inhibitors, lactacystin and clasto-lactacystin beta-lactone, block 5HT-induced facilitation of depressed synapses. Likewise the 5HT-induced enhancement of spontaneous miniature potentials (mEPSPs) frequency of depressed synapses is significantly reduced by calpeptin. In contrast, neither the facilitation of nondepressed synapses nor the enhancement of their mEPSPs frequency is affected by the inhibitor. The data suggest that action potentials-induced calcium influx activate calpains. These, in turn, play a role in the refilling processes of the depleted, releasable vesicle store.

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