Modulation of the kinetics of evoked quantal release at mouse neuromuscular junctions by calcium and strontium

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The effects of calcium and strontium on the quantal content of nerve-evoked endplate currents and on the kinetic parameters of quantal release (minimal synaptic delay, value of main mode of synaptic delay histogram, and variability of synaptic delay) were studied at the mouse neuromuscular synapse. At low calcium ion concentrations (0.2–0.6 mmol/L), evoked signals with long synaptic delays (several times longer than the value of main mode) were observed. Their number decreased substantially when [Ca2+]o was increased (i.e. the release of transmitter became more synchronous). By contrast, the early phase of secretion, characterized by minimal synaptic delay and accounting for the main peak of the synaptic delay histogram, did not change significantly with increasing [Ca2+]o. Hence, extracellular calcium affected mainly the late, ‘asynchronous’, portion of phasic release. The average quantal content grew exponentially from 0.09 ± 0.01 to 1.04 ± 0.07 with the increase in [Ca2+]o without reaching saturation. Similar results were obtained when calcium was replaced by strontium, but the asynchronous portion of phasic release was more pronounced and higher strontium concentrations (to 1.2–1.4 mmol/L) were required to abolish responses with long delays. Treatment of preparations with 1,2-bis(2-aminophenoxy)ethane-N,N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid tetrakis acetoxymethyl ester (BAPTA-AM) (25 μmol/L), but not with ethylene glycol-bis(2-aminoethylether)-N,N,N′, N ′-tetraacetic acid acetoxymethyl ester (EGTA-AM) (25 μmol/L), abolished the responses with long delays. The dependence of quantal content and synchrony of quantal release on calcium and strontium concentrations have quite different slopes, suggesting that they are governed by different mechanisms.

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