Probing fundamental aspects of synaptic transmission with strontium

J Neurosci. 2000 Jun 15;20(12):4414-22. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.20-12-04414.2000.


Strontium is capable of supporting synaptic transmission, but release is dramatically different from that evoked in calcium. By measuring presynaptic strontium levels, we gain insight into the actions of strontium, which has implications for the identification of molecules involved in different aspects of synaptic transmission. We examined presynaptic divalent levels and synaptic release at the granule cell to stellate cell synapse in mouse cerebellar slices. We find that the prolonged duration of release and paired-pulse facilitation in the presence of strontium can be accounted for by the slower removal of strontium from the presynaptic terminal. Phasic and delayed release are both driven by strontium less effectively than by calcium, indicating that a heightened sensitivity to strontium is not a feature of the binding sites involved in facilitation and delayed release. We also find that the cooperativity for phasic release is 1.7 for strontium compared with 3.2 for calcium, suggesting that differential binding may help to identify the calcium sensor involved in phasic release.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bicuculline / pharmacology
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cerebellum / drug effects
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred ICR
  • Neurons / drug effects
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Strontium / pharmacokinetics*
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Calcium
  • Bicuculline
  • Strontium