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Central mammalian synapses release synaptic vesicles in dedicated structures called docking/release sites. It has been assumed that when voltage-dependent calcium entry is sufficiently large, synaptic output attains a maximum value of one synaptic vesicle per action potential and per site. Here we use deconvolution to count synaptic vesicle output at single sites (mean site number per synapse: 3.6). When increasing calcium entry with tetraethylammonium in 1.5 mM external calcium concentration, we find that synaptic output saturates at 0.22 vesicle per site, not at 1 vesicle per site. Fitting the results with current models of calcium-dependent exocytosis indicates that the 0.22 vesicle limit reflects the probability of docking sites to be occupied by synaptic vesicles at rest, as only docked vesicles can be released. With 3 mM external calcium, the maximum output per site increases to 0.47, indicating an increase in docking site occupancy as a function of external calcium concentration. © 2020, Malagon et al.


Gerardo Malagon, Takafumi Miki, Van Tran, Laura C Gomez, Alain Marty. Incomplete vesicular docking limits synaptic strength under high release probability conditions. eLife. 2020 Mar 31;9

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PMID: 32228859

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