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, 50 (11), 2579-601

Correlation of Transmitter Release With Membrane Properties of the Presynaptic Fiber of the Squid Giant Synapse

Correlation of Transmitter Release With Membrane Properties of the Presynaptic Fiber of the Squid Giant Synapse

K Kusano et al. J Gen Physiol.

Abstract

Depolarization of the presynaptic terminal by current produced a postsynaptic potential (PSP) which increased with increasing presynaptic polarization and then reached a plateau. Iontophoretic injection of tetraethylammonium ions (TEA) into the presynaptic axon near the terminal produced a prolonged presynaptic spike. The resulting PSP is increased in size and its time course closely followed that of the presynaptic spike. The presynaptic fiber no longer exhibited rectification and strong depolarizations revealed that the PSP reached a maximum with about 110 mv depolarization. Further depolarization produced a decrease in PSP amplitude and finally transmission was blocked. However, a PSP then always appeared on withdrawal of the depolarizing current. Under the conditions of these experiments, the PSP could be considered a direct measure of transmitter release. Bathing the TEA-injected synapse with concentrations of tetrodotoxin (TTX) sufficient to block spike activity in both pre- and postsynaptic axons did not greatly modify postsynaptic electrogenesis. However, doubling TTX concentration reversibly blocked PSP. Thus the permeability changes to Na and K accompanying the spike do not appear necessary for transmitter release. Some other processes related to the level of presynaptic polarization must be involved to explain the data. The inhibition of transmitter release by strong depolarizations appears to be related to Ca action. A membrane Ca current may also be necessary for normal transmitter release.

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