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Records of excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) are often complex, with overlapping signals that display a large range of amplitudes. Statistical analysis of the kinetics and amplitudes of such complex EPSCs is nonetheless essential to the understanding of transmitter release. We therefore developed a maximum-likelihood blind deconvolution algorithm to detect exocytotic events in complex EPSC records. The algorithm is capable of characterizing the kinetics of the prototypical EPSC as well as delineating individual release events at higher temporal resolution than other extant methods. The approach also accommodates data with low signal-to-noise ratios and those with substantial overlaps between events. We demonstrated the algorithm's efficacy on paired whole-cell electrode recordings and synthetic data of high complexity. Using the algorithm to align EPSCs, we characterized their kinetics in a parameter-free way. Combining this approach with maximum-entropy deconvolution, we were able to identify independent release events in complex records at a temporal resolution of less than 250 µs. We determined that the increase in total postsynaptic current associated with depolarization of the presynaptic cell stems primarily from an increase in the rate of EPSCs rather than an increase in their amplitude. Finally, we found that fluctuations owing to postsynaptic receptor kinetics and experimental noise, as well as the model dependence of the deconvolution process, explain our inability to observe quantized peaks in histograms of EPSC amplitudes from physiological recordings.


Daniel Andor-Ardó, Erica C Keen, A J Hudspeth, Marcelo O Magnasco. Fast, automated implementation of temporally precise blind deconvolution of multiphasic excitatory postsynaptic currents. PloS one. 2012;7(6):e38198

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PMID: 22761670

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