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J Physiol. 1983 Oct;343:135-45.

Amplitude fluctuations in synaptic potentials evoked in cat spinal motoneurones at identified group Ia synapses.


Excitatory post-synaptic potentials (e.p.s.p.s) were evoked in spinal motoneurones (of anaesthetized cats) by impulses in single group Ia axons. The morphological details of the Ia axon-motoneurone connexion involved in generating each e.p.s.p. were subsequently reconstructed, as described by Redman & Walmsley (1983). The fluctuation pattern of the peak amplitude of each e.p.s.p. was determined using a deconvolution method, taking into account the recording noise. Four e.p.s.p.s were analysed. One did not fluctuate in amplitude; the others fluctuated between discrete amplitudes which were separated by quantal increments. The number of increments which must be added to produce the largest peak amplitude of each e.p.s.p. was always less than, or equal to, the number of synaptic boutons in the connexion at which the e.p.s.p. was generated. The results are consistent with the hypothesis that transmission occurs in an all-or-none manner at each synaptic bouton. Different boutons in the termination of a Ia axon with a motoneurone have different probabilities of releasing transmitter, and this probability is sometimes zero at low stimulation rates. The results support the idea that the discrete amplitudes of an evoked e.p.s.p. result from intermittent transmission, in an all-or-none manner, at some or all of the boutons in the termination.

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