Nanodomain coupling between Ca2+ channels and Ca2+ sensors promotes fast and efficient transmitter release at a cortical GABAergic synapse

Neuron. 2008 Feb 28;57(4):536-45. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2007.12.026.


It is generally thought that transmitter release at mammalian central synapses is triggered by Ca2+ microdomains, implying loose coupling between presynaptic Ca2+ channels and Ca2+ sensors of exocytosis. Here we show that Ca2+ channel subunit immunoreactivity is highly concentrated in the active zone of GABAergic presynaptic terminals of putative parvalbumin-containing basket cells in the hippocampus. Paired recording combined with presynaptic patch pipette perfusion revealed that GABA release at basket cell-granule cell synapses is sensitive to millimolar concentrations of the fast Ca2+ chelator BAPTA but insensitive to the slow Ca2+ chelator EGTA. These results show that Ca2+ source and Ca2+ sensor are tightly coupled at this synapse, with distances in the range of 10-20 nm. Models of Ca2+ inflow-exocytosis coupling further reveal that the tightness of coupling increases efficacy, speed, and temporal precision of transmitter release. Thus, tight coupling contributes to fast feedforward and feedback inhibition in the hippocampal network.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Channels / metabolism*
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Nanotechnology* / methods
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Synapses / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / metabolism*


  • Calcium Channels
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid