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J Neurophysiol. 1986 Mar;55(3):484-98.

Long-term facilitation alters transmitter releasing properties at the crayfish neuromuscular junction.


Synaptic transmission at the neuromuscular junction of the excitatory axon supplying the crayfish opener muscle was examined before and after induction of long-term facilitation (LTF) by a 10-min period of stimulation at 20 Hz. Induction of LTF led to a period of enhanced synaptic transmission, which often persisted for many hours. The enhancement was entirely presynaptic in origin, since quantal unit size and time course were not altered, and quantal content of transmission (m) was increased. LTF was not associated with any persistent changes in action potential or presynaptic membrane potential recorded in the terminal region of the excitatory axon. The small muscle fibers of the walking-leg opener muscle were almost isopotential, and all quantal events could be recorded with an intracellular microelectrode. In addition, at low frequencies of stimulation, m was small. Thus it was possible to apply a binomial model of transmitter release to events recorded from individual muscle fibers and to calculate values for n (number of responding units involved in transmission) and p (probability of transmission for the population of responding units) before and after LTF. In the majority of preparations analyzed (6/10), amplitude histograms of evoked synaptic potentials could be described by a binomial distribution with a small n and moderately high p. LTF produced a significant increase in n, while p was slightly reduced. The results can be explained by a model in which the binomial parameter n represents the number of active synapses and parameter p the mean probability of release at a synapse. Provided that a pool of initially inactive synapses exists, one can postulate that LTF involves recruitment of synapses to the active state.

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