Activity-dependent potentiation of synaptic transmission from L30 inhibitory interneurons of aplysia depends on residual presynaptic Ca2+ but not on postsynaptic Ca2+

J Neurophysiol. 1997 Oct;78(4):2061-71. doi: 10.1152/jn.1997.78.4.2061.


Activity-induced short-term synaptic enhancement (STE) is a common property of neurons, one that can endow neural circuits with the capacity for rapid and flexible information processing. Evidence from a variety of systems indicates that the expression of STE depends largely on the action of residual Ca2+, which enters the presynaptic terminal during activity. We have shown previously that a Ca2+-dependent STE in the inhibitory synapse between interneurons L30 and L29 in the abdominal ganglion of Aplysia californica has a functional role in regulating the gain of the siphon withdrawal circuit through facilitated recurrent inhibition onto the L29s. In the present paper, we further explore the role of Ca2+ in L30 STE by examining two basic issues: 1) What is the role of residual presynaptic Ca2+ in the maintenance of L30 STE? We examine this question by first inducing STE in the L30s then rapidly buffering presynaptic free calcium through the use of the photoactivated Ca2+ chelator diazo-4, which was preloaded into the L30 neurons. Three forms of STE in the L30s were examined: frequency facilitation (FF), augmentation (AUG), and posttetanic potentiation (PTP). In each case, the activation-induced enhancement of the L30 to L29 synapse was reduced to preactivation levels at the first test pulse following photolysis of diazo-4. 2) What is the role of postsynaptic Ca2+ in the induction of L30 STE? We examine whether there is a postsynaptic requirement of elevated Ca2+ for the induction of L30 STE by first injecting the calcium chelator bis-(o-aminophenoxy)-N,N,N',N'-tetraacetic acid (BAPTA) into the postsynaptic cell L29 (at levels sufficient to block transmitter release from the L29s), to prevent any increase in postsynaptic intracellular Ca2+ that may occur during L30 (presynaptic) activation. We found that BAPTA injection did not effect either the induction or the time course of FF, AUG, or PTP in the L30s. Taken collectively, our data indicate that all forms of STE in the L30s depend on presynaptic free cytosolic Ca2+ for their maintenance but do not require the elevation of postsynaptic Ca2+ for their induction.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aplysia
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Chelating Agents / pharmacology
  • Diazomethane / analogs & derivatives
  • Diazomethane / pharmacology
  • Egtazic Acid / analogs & derivatives
  • Egtazic Acid / pharmacology
  • Interneurons / physiology*
  • Ribosomal Proteins / physiology
  • Synapses / drug effects
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Chelating Agents
  • Ribosomal Proteins
  • ribosomal protein L30
  • diazo-4
  • Egtazic Acid
  • Diazomethane
  • Calcium