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Science 289 (5481): 953-957

Copyright © 2000 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

Calcium Sensitivity of Glutamate Release in a Calyx-Type Terminal

Johann H. Bollmann,1* Bert Sakmann,1 J. Gerard G. Borst12

Synaptic efficacy critically depends on the presynaptic intracellular calcium concentration ([Ca2+]i). We measured the calcium sensitivity of glutamate release in a rat auditory brainstem synapse by laser photolysis of caged calcium. A rise in [Ca2+]i to 1 micromolar readily evoked release. An increase to >30 micromolar depleted the releasable vesicle pool in <0.5 millisecond. A comparison with action potential-evoked release suggested that a brief increase of [Ca2+]i to ~10 micromolar would be sufficient to reproduce the physiological release pattern. Thus, the calcium sensitivity of release at this synapse is high, and the distinction between phasic and delayed release is less pronounced than previously thought.

1 Max-Planck-Institute for Medical Research, Department of Cell Physiology, Jahnstrasse 29, D-69120 Heidelberg, Germany.
2 Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam, Kruislaan 320, 1098 SM Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
*   To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jbollman{at}

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