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J Neurosci. 2011 Mar 23;31(12):4397-406. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5921-10.2011.

Lateral mobility of presynaptic L-type calcium channels at photoreceptor ribbon synapses.

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Department of Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska 68198-5840, USA.


At most synapses, presynaptic Ca(2+) channels are positioned near vesicle release sites, and increasing this distance reduces synaptic strength. We examined the lateral membrane mobility of presynaptic L-type Ca(2+) channels at photoreceptor ribbon synapses of the tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum) retina. Movements of individual Ca(2+) channels were tracked by coupling quantum dots to an antibody against the extracellular α(2)δ(4) Ca(2+) channel subunit. α(2)δ(4) antibodies labeled photoreceptor terminals and colocalized with antibodies to synaptic vesicle glycoprotein 2 and voltage-gated Ca(2+) channel 1.4 (Ca(V)1.4) α(1) subunits. The results show that Ca(2+) channels are dynamic and move within a confined region beneath the synaptic ribbon. The size of this confinement area is regulated by actin and membrane cholesterol. Fusion of nearby synaptic vesicles caused jumps in Ca(2+) channel position, propelling them toward the outer edge of the confinement domain. Channels rebounded rapidly toward the center. Thus, although Ca(V) channels are mobile, molecular scaffolds confine them beneath the ribbon to maintain neurotransmission even at high release rates.

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