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Synapses are fundamental information processing units that rely on voltage-gated Ca2+ (Cav) channels to trigger Ca2+-dependent neurotransmitter release. Cav channels also play Ca2+-independent roles in other biological contexts, but whether they do so in axon terminals is unknown. Here, we addressed this unknown with respect to the requirement for Cav1.4 L-type channels for the formation of rod photoreceptor synapses in the retina. Using a mouse strain expressing a non-conducting mutant form of Cav1.4, we report that the Cav1.4 protein, but not its Ca2+ conductance, is required for the molecular assembly of rod synapses; however, Cav1.4 Ca2+ signals are needed for the appropriate recruitment of postsynaptic partners. Our results support a model in which presynaptic Cav channels serve both as organizers of synaptic building blocks and as sources of Ca2+ ions in building the first synapse of the visual pathway and perhaps more broadly in the nervous system. © 2020, Maddox et al.


J Wesley Maddox, Kate L Randall, Ravi P Yadav, Brittany Williams, Jussara Hagen, Paul J Derr, Vasily Kerov, Luca Della Santina, Sheila A Baker, Nikolai Artemyev, Mrinalini Hoon, Amy Lee. A dual role for Cav1.4 Ca2+ channels in the molecular and structural organization of the rod photoreceptor synapse. eLife. 2020 Sep 17;9

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PMID: 32940604

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