Postsynaptic conversion of silent synapses during LTP affects synaptic gain and transmission dynamics

Nat Neurosci. 2001 Oct;4(10):989-96. doi: 10.1038/nn719.


Synaptic transmission relies on both the gain and the dynamics of synapses. Activity-dependent changes in synaptic gain are well-documented at excitatory synapses and may represent a substrate for information storage in the brain. Here we examine the mechanisms of changes in transmission dynamics at excitatory synapses. We show that paired-pulse ratios (PPRs) of AMPAR and NMDAR EPSCs onto dentate gyrus granule cells are often different; this difference is reduced during LTP, reflecting PPR changes of AMPAR but not NMDAR EPSCs. Presynaptic manipulations, however, produce parallel changes in AMPAR and NMDAR EPSCs. LTP at these synapses reflects a reduction in the proportion of silent synapses lacking functional AMPARs. Changes in PPR during LTP therefore reflect the initial difference between PPRs of silent and functional synapses. Functional conversion of silent synapses permits postsynaptic sampling from additional release sites and thereby affects the dynamics and gain of signals conveyed between neurons.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dentate Gyrus / cytology
  • Dentate Gyrus / metabolism
  • Electric Stimulation
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials / physiology
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Patch-Clamp Techniques
  • Purinergic P1 Receptor Antagonists
  • Rats
  • Receptors, AMPA / metabolism*
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Purinergic P1 Receptor Antagonists
  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate