Synaptic transmission throughout most of the CNS is steeply dependent on presynaptic calcium influx through the voltage-gated calcium channels Cav2.1-Cav2.3. In addition to triggering exocytosis, this calcium influx also recruits short-term synaptic plasticity. During the complex patterns of presynaptic activity that occur in vivo, several forms of plasticity combine to generate a synaptic output that is dynamic, in which the size of a given excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) in response to a given spike depends on the short-term history of presynaptic activity. It remains unclear whether the different Cav2 channels play distinct roles in defining these synaptic dynamics and, if so, under what conditions different Cav2 family members most effectively determine synaptic output. We examined these questions by measuring the effects of calcium channel-selective toxins on synaptic transmission at the Schaffer collateral synapse in hippocampal slices from adult mice in response to both low-frequency stimulation and complex stimulus trains derived from in vivo recordings. Blockade of Cav2.1 had a greater inhibitory effect on synaptic transmission during low-frequency components of the stimulus train than on synaptic transmission during high-frequency components of the train, indicating that Cav2.1 had a greater fractional contribution to synaptic transmission at low frequencies than at high frequencies. Relative to Cav2.1, Cav2.2 had a disproportionately reduced contribution to synaptic transmission at frequencies >20 Hz, while Cav2.3 had a disproportionately increased contribution to synaptic transmission at frequencies >1 Hz. These activity-dependent effects of different Cav2 family members shape the filtering characteristics of GABAB receptor-mediated presynaptic inhibition. Thus different Cav2 channels vary in their coupling to synaptic transmission over different frequency ranges, with consequences for the frequency tuning of both synaptic dynamics and presynaptic neuromodulation.
Keywords: calcium channels; glutamate; hippocampus; plasticity; synaptic dynamics.
Copyright © 2014 the American Physiological Society.