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EMBO J. 2014 Mar 3;33(5):512-27. doi: 10.1002/embj.201385887. Epub 2014 Jan 17.

Bassoon-disruption slows vesicle replenishment and induces homeostatic plasticity at a CNS synapse.

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InnerEarLab, Department of Otolaryngology, University Medical Center Göttingen, Göttingen, Germany.


Endbulb of Held terminals of auditory nerve fibers (ANF) transmit auditory information at hundreds per second to bushy cells (BCs) in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN). Here, we studied the structure and function of endbulb synapses in mice that lack the presynaptic scaffold bassoon and exhibit reduced ANF input into the AVCN. Endbulb terminals and active zones were normal in number and vesicle complement. Postsynaptic densities, quantal size and vesicular release probability were increased while vesicle replenishment and the standing pool of readily releasable vesicles were reduced. These opposing effects canceled each other out for the first evoked EPSC, which showed unaltered amplitude. We propose that ANF activity deprivation drives homeostatic plasticity in the AVCN involving synaptic upscaling and increased intrinsic BC excitability. In vivo recordings from individual mutant BCs demonstrated a slightly improved response at sound onset compared to ANF, likely reflecting the combined effects of ANF convergence and homeostatic plasticity. Further, we conclude that bassoon promotes vesicular replenishment and, consequently, a large standing pool of readily releasable synaptic vesicles at the endbulb synapse.

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