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J Neurophysiol. 1985 Aug;54(2):220-30.

Correlation of presynaptic and postsynaptic events during establishment of long-term facilitation at crayfish neuromuscular junction.


Repetitive stimulation (10-20 Hz) of the motor axon supplying the opener muscle in the crayfish leg produces long-lasting enhancement of excitatory postsynaptic potentials. This long-term facilitation (LTF) was investigated by recording simultaneously from the presynaptic nerve terminal and from the innervated muscle fiber with intracellular microelectrodes. On cessation of stimulation, the facilitated postsynaptic potential declines in amplitude when monitored with low-frequency test stimuli. A rapid decline (phase I) occurs over the first 30 s and is succeeded by a more gradual decline lasting several minutes (phase II). Finally, a residual potentiation with a very slow decay (phase III) persists for several hours. Simultaneous pre- and postsynaptic recordings were made during induction of LTF with stimuli delivered at 20 Hz for 10 min. During the tetanus, excitatory postsynaptic potentials were enhanced 20-fold, while action potentials in the presynaptic terminal declined in amplitude from 108.6 to 97.2 mV, and the presynaptic membrane became hyperpolarized by 6.4 mV. The Na+ pump inhibitor ouabain (0.5-1.0 mM) abolished the hyperpolarization, indicating that the latter resulted from activation of an electrogenic Na+ pump. The reduction in amplitude of the presynaptic action potential was consistent with a reduced transmembrane concentration gradient for Na+. Thus, it is suggested that a significant accumulation of Na+ occurs during repetitive stimulation of crayfish motor axons. Decay of phase II of LTF, but not of phases I or III, had approximately the same time course as the decay of Na+ accumulation in the terminals, monitored by changes in the presynaptic action potential. Thus it is probable that in crayfish this phase of LTF is linked to an increased intraterminal Na+ concentration. Injection of Na+ from a microelectrode into the presynaptic terminal produced enhancement of the excitatory postsynaptic potential lasting for many minutes, as well as changes in presynaptic membrane potential and action potential similar to those seen during repetitive stimulation. The results provide the first direct measurements of electrical and ionic changes in axonal terminals during prolonged periods of activity leading to LTF, and support the hypothesis that accumulation of intraterminal Na+ is associated with one phase of LTF.

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