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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1996 Jun 11;93(12):5747-52.

Miniature endplate current rise times less than 100 microseconds from improved dual recordings can be modeled with passive acetylcholine diffusion from a synaptic vesicle.

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Section of Neurobiology & Behavior, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, USA.


We recorded miniature endplate currents (mEPCs) using simultaneous voltage clamp and extracellular methods, allowing correction for time course measurement errors. We obtained a 20-80% rise time (tr) of approximately 80 micros at 22 degrees C, shorter than any previously reported values, and tr variability (SD) with an upper limit of 25-30 micros. Extracellular electrode pressure can increase tr and its variability by 2- to 3-fold. Using Monte Carlo simulations, we modeled passive acetylcholine diffusion through a vesicle fusion pore expanding radially at 25 nm x ms(-1) (rapid, from endplate omega figure appearance) or 0.275 nm x ms(-1) (slow, from mast cell exocytosis). Simulated mEPCs obtained with rapid expansion reproduced tr and the overall shape of our experimental mEPCs, and were similar to simulated mEPCs obtained with instant acetylcholine release. We conclude that passive transmitter diffusion, coupled with rapid expansion of the fusion pore, is sufficient to explain the time course of experimentally measured synaptic currents with trs of less than 100 micros.

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