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J Neurosci. 2017 May 10;37(19):4913-4927. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0159-17.2017. Epub 2017 Apr 14.

Short-Term Facilitation at a Detonator Synapse Requires the Distinct Contribution of Multiple Types of Voltage-Gated Calcium Channels.

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Quebec Mental Health Institute, Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Université Laval, Quebec City, Quebec, G1J 2G3 Canada.
Quebec Mental Health Institute, Department of Psychiatry and Neuroscience, Université Laval, Quebec City, Quebec, G1J 2G3 Canada


Neuronal calcium elevations are shaped by several key parameters, including the properties, density, and the spatial location of voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs). These features allow presynaptic terminals to translate complex firing frequencies and tune the amount of neurotransmitter released. Although synchronous neurotransmitter release relies on both P/Q- and N-type VGCCs at hippocampal mossy fiber-CA3 synapses, the specific contribution of VGCCs to calcium dynamics, neurotransmitter release, and short-term facilitation remains unknown. Here, we used random-access two-photon calcium imaging together with electrophysiology in acute mouse hippocampal slices to dissect the roles of P/Q- and N-type VGCCs. Our results show that N-type VGCCs control glutamate release at a limited number of release sites through highly localized Ca2+ elevations and support short-term facilitation by enhancing multivesicular release. In contrast, Ca2+ entry via P/Q-type VGCCs promotes the recruitment of additional release sites through spatially homogeneous Ca2+ elevations. Altogether, our results highlight the specialized contribution of P/Q- and N-types VGCCs to neurotransmitter release.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT In presynaptic terminals, neurotransmitter release is dynamically regulated by the transient opening of different types of voltage-gated calcium channels. Hippocampal giant mossy fiber terminals display extensive short-term facilitation during repetitive activity, with a large several fold postsynaptic response increase. Though, how giant mossy fiber terminals leverage distinct types of voltage-gated calcium channels to mediate short-term facilitation remains unexplored. Here, we find that P/Q- and N-type VGCCs generate different spatial patterns of calcium elevations in giant mossy fiber terminals and support short-term facilitation through specific participation in two mechanisms. Whereas N-type VGCCs contribute only to the synchronization of multivesicular release, P/Q-type VGCCs act through microdomain signaling to recruit additional release sites.


mossy fiber; short-term plasticity; voltage-gated calcium channels

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