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Neuron. 1994 Nov;13(5):1109-17.

Control of transmitter release from retinal amacrine cells by Ca2+ influx and efflux.

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Division of Biological Sciences, University of California, Davis 95616.


Cultured retinal amacrine cells show quantal GABAergic synaptic transmission. Voltage clamping pre- and post-synaptic cells of an isolated pair has allowed us to examine the entry and removal of Ca2+ at synaptic terminals. Brief presynaptic Ca2+ currents elicit an initial postsynaptic current that probably reflects the roughly synchronous exocytosis of docked vesicles. Prolonged Ca2+ currents elicit an additional second phase of release whose time course can greatly exceed that of the presynaptic voltage step. The time course of this second phase reflects a sustained increase in cytosolic Ca2+ and is matched closely by the activity of the presynaptic Na-Ca exchanger, as revealed by an exchange current. Eliminating the activity of the exchanger by removal of external Na+ prolongs this second phase of transmission greatly. Because transmitter release at these synapses outlasts Ca+ channel opening, Na-Ca exchange plays a significant role in shaping transmission.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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