Proton-mediated block of Ca2+ channels during multivesicular release regulates short-term plasticity at an auditory hair cell synapse

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Synaptic vesicles release both neurotransmitter and protons during exocytosis, which may result in a transient acidification of the synaptic cleft that can block Ca2+ channels located close to the sites of exocytosis. Evidence for this effect has been reported for retinal ribbon-type synapses, but not for hair cell ribbon synapses. Here, we report evidence for proton release from bullfrog auditory hair cells when they are held at more physiological, in vivo-like holding potentials (Vh = —60 mV) that facilitate multivesicular release. During paired recordings of hair cells and afferent fibers, L-type voltage-gated Ca2+ currents showed a transient block, which was highly correlated with the EPSC amplitude (or the amount of glutamate release). This effect was masked at Vh = — 90 mV due to the presence of a T-type Ca2+ current and blocked by strong pH buffering with HEPES or TABS. Increasing vesicular pH with internal methylamine in hair cells also abolished the transient block. High concentrations of intracellular Ca2+ buffer (10 mM BAPTA) greatly reduced exocytosis and abolished the transient block of the Ca2+ current. We estimate that this transient block is due to the rapid multivesicular release of ~ 600 -1300 H+ ions per synaptic ribbon. Finally, during a train of depolarizing pulses, paired pulse plasticity was significantly changed by using 40 mM HEPES in addition to bicarbonate buffer. We propose that this transient block of Ca2+ current leads to more efficient exocytosis per Ca2+ ion influx and it may contribute to spike adaptation at the auditory nerve.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)15877-15887
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number48
StatePublished - Nov 26 2014


  • Auditory
  • Calcium current
  • Electrophysiology
  • Exocytosis
  • Hair cells
  • Protons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Proton-mediated block of Ca2+ channels during multivesicular release regulates short-term plasticity at an auditory hair cell synapse'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this