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Cereb Cortex. 2012 Jul;22(7):1498-509. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhr217. Epub 2011 Sep 7.

Depression of release by mGluR8 alters Ca2+ dependence of release machinery.

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Department of Neurosurgery, University Clinic Bonn, D-53105 Bonn, Germany.


The ubiquitous presynaptic metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) are generally believed to primarily inhibit synaptic transmission through blockade of Ca(2+) entry. Here, we analyzed how mGluR8 achieves a nearly complete inhibition of glutamate release at hippocampal synapses. Surprisingly, presynaptic Ca(2+) imaging and miniature excitatory postsynaptic current recordings showed that mGluR8 acts without affecting Ca(2+) entry, diffusion, and buffering. We quantitatively compared the Ca(2+) dependence of the inhibition of release by mGluR8 with the inhibition by ω-conotoxin GVIA. These calculations suggest that the inhibition produced by mGluR8 may be explained by a decrease in the apparent Ca(2+) affinity of the release sensor and, to a smaller extent, by a reduction of the maximal release rate. Upon activation of mGluR8, phasic transmitter release toward the end of a train of action potentials is greater as compared with presynaptic inhibition induced by blocking Ca(2+) entry, which is consistent with the important role of Ca(2+) in accelerating the replenishment of released vesicles. The action of mGluR8 was resistant to blockers of classical G-protein transduction pathways including inhibition of adenylate cyclase and may represent a direct effect on the release machinery. In conclusion, our data identify a mode of presynaptic inhibition which allows mGluR8 to profoundly inhibit vesicle fusion while not diminishing vesicle replenishment and which thereby differentially changes the temporal transmission properties of the inhibited synapse.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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