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The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Cav2.1 channels control multivesicular release by relying on their distance from exocytotic Ca2+ sensors at rat cerebellar granule cells.


PMID 24453334

Abstract

The concomitant release of multiple numbers of synaptic vesicles [multivesicular release (MVR)] in response to a single presynaptic action potential enhances the flexibility of synaptic transmission. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying MVR at a single CNS synapse remain unclear. Here, we show that the Cav2.1 subtype (P/Q-type) of the voltage-gated calcium channel is specifically responsible for the induction of MVR. In the rat cerebellar cortex, paired-pulse activation of granule cell (GC) ascending fibers leads not only to a facilitation of the peak amplitude (PPFamp) but also to a prolongation of the decay time (PPPdecay) of the EPSCs recorded from molecular layer interneurons. PPFamp is elicited by a transient increase in the number of released vesicles. PPPdecay is highly dependent on MVR and is caused by dual mechanisms: (1) a delayed release and (2) an extrasynaptic spillover of the GC transmitter glutamate and subsequent pooling of the glutamate among active synapses. PPPdecay was specifically suppressed by the Cav2.1 channel blocker ω-agatoxin IVA, while PPFamp responded to Cav2.2/Cav2.3 (N-type/R-type) channel blockers. The membrane-permeable slow Ca(2+) chelator EGTA-AM profoundly reduced the decay time constant (τdecay) of the second EPSC; however, it only had a negligible impact on that of the first, thereby eliminating PPPdecay. These results suggest that the distance between presynaptic Cav2.1 channels and exocytotic Ca(2+) sensors is a key determinant of MVR. By transducing presynaptic action potential firings into unique Ca(2+) signals and vesicle release profiles, Cav2.1 channels contribute to the encoding and processing of neural information.