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Loose coupling between calcium channels and sensors
Date:2/6/2014

This news release is available in German.

Information transmission at the synapse between neurons is a highly complex, but at the same time very fast, series of events. When a voltage change, the so-called action potential, reaches the synaptic terminal in the presynaptic neuron, calcium flows through voltage-gated calcium channels into the presynaptic neuron. This influx leads to a rise in the intracellular calcium concentration. Calcium then binds to a calcium sensor in the presynaptic terminal, which in turn triggers the release of vesicles containing neurotransmitters into the synapse. The released neurotransmitter binds to postsynaptic receptors, leading to a response in the postsynaptic neuron. The coupling between calcium channels and sensors of exocytosis is key in determining the speed, timing and probability of synaptic transmission. Two forms of coupling occur in the brain: in tight, or nanodomain" coupling, channels and sensors are located very close to each other, with 10 to 20 nm distance, while in loose, or microdomain" coupling, channel and sensor are further apart, in the region of around 100 nm. Previous research suggests that loose coupling occurs in synapses during early development, while tight coupling is observed in the mature central nervous system. In their current paper, Vyleta and Jonas ask whether, given the advantages of tight coupling including the speed, temporal precision, fidelity and energy efficiency of synaptic transmission any synapse in the mature central nervous system makes use of loose coupling? And if it does so, what are the consequences for the function of synaptic transmission?

A specific synapse in the hippocampus, the mossy fiber synapse on CA3 pyramidal neurons, which is accessible to direct recording using the patch-clamp
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Contact: Oliver Lehmann
oliver.lehmann@ist.ac.at
43-067-640-12562
Institute of Science and Technology Austria
Source:Eurekalert  

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