UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications

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Department of Neurobiology

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Article Preprint


Neuroscience and Neurobiology


Synchronous neurotransmission is central to efficient information transfer in neural circuits, requiring precise coupling between action potentials, Ca2+ entry and neurotransmitter release. However, determinations of Ca2+ requirements for release, which may originate from entry through single voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, remain largely unexplored in simple active zone synapses common in the nervous system. Understanding these requirements is key to addressing Ca2+ channel and synaptic dysfunction underlying numerous neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders. Here, we present single channel analysis of evoked active zone Ca2+ entry, using cell-attached patch clamp and lattice light sheet microscopy over active zones at single central lamprey reticulospinal presynaptic terminals. Our findings show a small pool (mean of 23) of Ca2+ channels at each terminal, comprising subtypes N-type (CaV2.2), P/Q-type (CaV2.1) and R-type (CaV2.3), available to gate neurotransmitter release. Significantly, of this pool only 1-6 (mean of 4) channels open upon depolarization. High temporal fidelity lattice light sheet imaging reveals AP-evoked Ca2+ transients exhibiting quantal amplitude variations between action potentials and stochastic variation of precise locations of Ca2+ entry within the active zone. Further, Ca2+ channel numbers at each active zone correlate to the number of presynaptic primed synaptic vesicles. Together, our findings indicate 1:1 association of Ca2+ channels with primed vesicles, suggesting Ca2+ entry via as few as one channel may trigger neurotransmitter release.


Neuroscience, neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders, calcium channels, neurotransmitters, presynaptic terminals

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bioRxiv 2021.02.02.429388; doi: Link to preprint on bioRxiv.


This article is a preprint. Preprints are preliminary reports of work that have not been certified by peer review.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.