Inhibition of transmitter release shortens the duration of the excitatory synaptic current at a calyceal synapse

Thomas S. Otis, Laurence O. Trussell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


1. We investigated the effect of reducing transmitter release on the time course of multiquantal, evoked synaptic currents to test for transmitter 'cross talk' between neighboring synaptic release sites within a calyceal synapse. By rising a brain slice preparation, neurons in the chick nucleus magnocellularis (nMAG) were voltage clamped and individual presynaptic axons were stimulated to evoke excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs). 2. Application of 100-μM baclofen or 50-μM GABA in the presence of a γ- aminobutyric acid A (GABA(A)) receptor antagonist produced an 85% reduction of EPSCs, consistent with the activation of presynaptic γ-aminobutyric acid- B (GABA(B)) receptors. In parallel with the reduction in the amplitude of the EPSC by GABA(B) receptor activation, the normally strong paired pulse depression (PPD) of the EPSC was converted to facilitation. The reduction in EPSC amplitude by γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) or baclofen was accompanied by a 20% reduction in the exponential time constant of decay of the EPSC. Weaker effects on the EPSC time course were observed for synapses with the least PPD. 3. Cd2+ (5 μM), which inhibits presynaptic calcium current, also reduced EPSC amplitude by 85% and converted PPD to facilitation. EPSCs were narrower in Cd2+, though less so than in baclofen. 4. The time course of the EPSC was longer than that of miniature synaptic currents, even after significant block by baclofen, GABA or Cd2+, indicating that dispersion of quantal release may help shape the synaptic waveform. However, the narrowing of the EPSC by baclofen, GABA, and Cd2+ suggests that high levels of quantal release at the calyceal synapse may delay the removal of transmitter, further slowing the EPSC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3584-3588
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of neurophysiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1996
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Physiology


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