Research ArticleNeuroscience

Ligand- and voltage-gated Ca2+ channels differentially regulate the mode of vesicular neuropeptide release in mammalian sensory neurons

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Sci. Signal.  20 Jun 2017:
Vol. 10, Issue 484, eaal1683
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aal1683

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Communication between sensory neurons underlies our sense of touch and temperature and is mediated by the release of neuropeptides from exocytic vesicles. In response to calcium influx, these vesicles can either fuse completely with the synaptic membrane and release all of their contents (called full-fusion release) or fuse transiently and release only some of their contents (called “kiss-and-run” release). Using single-vesicle imaging in rodent sensory neurons, Wang et al. discovered that the release mode used by a neuron was determined by the type of calcium channel that was activated. Activation of voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) promoted greater calcium influx at the plasma membrane, which inhibited a protein that limits fusion pore size, thus enabling full-fusion release. Activation of ligand-gated TRPV1 calcium channels promoted partial but pulsed and thus more prolonged neuropeptide release. The findings provide insight into how calcium channels influence sensory neurotransmission.