PloS one

An inhibitory effect of extracellular Ca2+ on Ca2+-dependent exocytosis.

PMID 22028769


Neurotransmitter release is elicited by an elevation of intracellular Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+)](i)). The action potential triggers Ca(2+) influx through Ca(2+) channels which causes local changes of [Ca(2+)](i) for vesicle release. However, any direct role of extracellular Ca(2+) (besides Ca(2+) influx) on Ca(2+)-dependent exocytosis remains elusive. Here we set out to investigate this possibility on rat dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons and chromaffin cells, widely used models for studying vesicle exocytosis. Using photolysis of caged Ca(2+) and caffeine-induced release of stored Ca(2+), we found that extracellular Ca(2+) inhibited exocytosis following moderate [Ca(2+)](i) rises (2-3 µM). The IC(50) for extracellular Ca(2+) inhibition of exocytosis (ECIE) was 1.38 mM and a physiological reduction (∼30%) of extracellular Ca(2+) concentration ([Ca(2+)](o)) significantly increased the evoked exocytosis. At the single vesicle level, quantal size and release frequency were also altered by physiological [Ca(2+)](o). The calcimimetics Mg(2+), Cd(2+), G418, and neomycin all inhibited exocytosis. The extracellular Ca(2+)-sensing receptor (CaSR) was not involved because specific drugs and knockdown of CaSR in DRG neurons did not affect ECIE. As an extension of the classic Ca(2+) hypothesis of synaptic release, physiological levels of extracellular Ca(2+) play dual roles in evoked exocytosis by providing a source of Ca(2+) influx, and by directly regulating quantal size and release probability in neuronal cells.