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Presynaptic Ca2+ influx and vesicle exocytosis at the mouse endbulb of Held: a comparison of two auditory nerve terminals


The functional properties of mammalian presynaptic nerve endings remain elusive since most terminals of the central nervous system are not accessible to direct electrophysiological recordings. In this study, direct recordings were performed for the first time at endbulb of Held terminals to characterize passive membrane properties, voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels (VGCCs) and Ca(2+)-dependent exocytosis. Endbulb of Held terminals arise from endings of auditory nerve fibres contacting spherical bushy cells (SBCs) in the anterior ventral cochlear nucleus (AVCN). These terminals had a high mean input resistance (1.1 G) and a small mean capacitance (4.3 pF). Presynaptic VGCCs were predominantly of the P/Q type (86%) and expressed at a high density with an estimated average number of 6400 channels per terminal. Presynaptic Ca(2+) currents (I(Ca(V))) activated and deactivated rapidly. Simulations of action potential (AP)-driven gating of VGCCs suggests that endbulb APs trigger brief Ca(2+) influx with a mean half-width of 240 mus and a peak amplitude of 0.45 nA which results from the opening of approximately 2600 channels. Unlike Ca(2+) currents at the calyx of Held, I(Ca(V)) of endbulb terminals showed no inactivation during trains of AP-like presynaptic depolarizations. Endbulb terminals are endowed with a large readily releasable vesicle pool (1064 vesicles) of which only a small fraction (<10%) is consumed during a single AP-like stimulus. Fast presynaptic APs together with rapidly gating VGCCs will generate brief intracellular Ca(2+) transients that favour highly synchronous transmitter release. Collectively these characteristics ensure sustained and precise transmission of timing information from auditory stimuli at the endbulbSBC synapse.

Type Journal
ISBN 1469-7793 (Electronic) 0022-3751 (Linking)
Authors Lin, K. H.; Oleskevich, S.; Taschenberger, H.;
Published Date 2011-01-01
Published Volume 589
Published Issue Pt 17
Published Pages 4301-20
Status Published in-print
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version