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Neurotransmitter release probability is related by high power to the local concentration of calcium in presynaptic terminals, which in turn is controlled by voltage-gated calcium channels. P/Q- and N-type channels trigger synaptic transmission in the majority of neurons of the central nervous system. However, whether and under which conditions both channel types act cooperatively or independently is still insufficiently understood. Previous studies suggested either a dominance of N- or P/Q-type channels, or a synergistic action of both channels, depending on the experimental paradigms. Thus, to provide insight into the properties of neurotransmitter release in cultured mouse hippocampal neurons, we used quantitative analysis of FM dye release from presynaptic boutons induced by high potassium membrane depolarization. Increasing extracellular potassium concentrations revealed a sigmoid dependence of FM dye release to the stimulation strength. Individual and combined application of the P/Q- and N-type channel-specific blockers ω-agatoxin-IVA and ω-conotoxin-GVIA, respectively, allowed us to specifically isolate the contribution of both channel types to release triggered with 40 mM KCl. Analysis of the release kinetics and the fractional release amplitude demonstrate that, whereas in only 15% of the synapses release depended exclusively on P/Q-type channels, the majority of synapses (85%) contained both N- and P/Q-type channels. Nevertheless, the kinetics of FM dye release in synapses containing both channel types was determined by the P/Q-type channels. Together, our data suggest a more direct coupling of P/Q-type channels to synaptic release compared to N-type channels, which may explain the high prevalence of neurological P/Q-type channelopathies. Copyright © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.


B Nimmervoll, B E Flucher, G J Obermair. Dominance of P/Q-type calcium channels in depolarization-induced presynaptic FM dye release in cultured hippocampal neurons. Neuroscience. 2013 Dec 3;253:330-40

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PMID: 24012836

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