Developmental switch from GABA to glycine release in single central synaptic terminals

Nat Neurosci. 2004 Jan;7(1):17-23. doi: 10.1038/nn1170. Epub 2003 Dec 21.


Early in postnatal development, inhibitory inputs to rat lateral superior olive (LSO) neurons change from releasing predominantly GABA to releasing predominantly glycine into the synapse. Here we show that spontaneous miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents (mIPSCs) also change from GABAergic to glycinergic over the first two postnatal weeks. Many 'mixed' mIPSCs, resulting from co-release of glycine and GABA from the same vesicles, are seen during this transition. Immunohistochemistry showed that a large number of terminals contained both GABA and glycine at postnatal day 8 (P8). By P14, both the content of GABA in these mixed terminals and the contribution of GABA to the mixed mIPSCs had decreased. The content of glycine in terminals increased over the same period. Our results indicate that switching from GABAergic to glycinergic inputs to the LSO may occur at the level of a single presynaptic terminal. This demonstrates a new form of developmental plasticity at the level of a single central synapse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Bicuculline / pharmacology
  • Glycine / metabolism*
  • Olivary Nucleus / drug effects
  • Olivary Nucleus / growth & development*
  • Olivary Nucleus / metabolism*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / drug effects
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Synaptic Transmission / drug effects
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glycine
  • Bicuculline