Rapid-time-course miniature and evoked excitatory currents at cerebellar synapses in situ

Nature. 1992 Jan 9;355(6356):163-6. doi: 10.1038/355163a0.


Neurotransmission from mossy fibre terminals onto cerebellar granule cells is almost certainly mediated by L-glutamate. By taking advantage of the small soma size, limited number of processes and short dendrite length of granule cells, we have obtained high-resolution recordings of spontaneous miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (m.e.p.s.cs) and evoked currents in thin cerebellar slices. Miniature currents have a similar time-course and pharmacology to evoked currents and consist of an exceptionally fast non-NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) component (measured rise-time, 200 microseconds; estimated pre-filtered rise-time less than 100 microseconds; decay time constant, tau = 1.0 ms), followed by 50 pS NMDA channel openings that are directly resolvable. We could find no evidence for the recent proposal that miniature currents in granule cells are mediated solely by NMDA channels with a novel time course. The non-NMDA receptor component of m.e.p.s.cs has a skewed amplitude distribution, which suggests potential complications for quantal analysis. The difference in time course between the m.e.p.s.cs reported here and other synaptic currents in the brain could reflect differences in synaptic function or electrotonic filtering; the relative contribution of these possibilities has yet to be established.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebellum / physiology*
  • Electric Conductivity
  • Electrophysiology
  • Evoked Potentials
  • Ion Channels / physiology
  • Kinetics
  • N-Methylaspartate / physiology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / physiology
  • Synapses / physiology*


  • Ion Channels
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • N-Methylaspartate