This content will become publicly available on May 15, 2024
- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Gupton, Stephanie
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Molecular Biology of the Cell
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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The general mechanism of calcium-triggered chemical transmitter release from neuronal synapses has been intensely studied, is well-known, and highly conserved between species and synapses across the nervous system. However, the structural and functional details within each transmitter release site (or active zone) are difficult to study in living tissue using current experimental approaches owing to the small spatial compartment within the synapse where exocytosis occurs with a very rapid time course. Therefore, computer simulations offer the opportunity to explore these microphysiological environments of the synapse at nanometer spatial scales and on a sub-microsecond timescale. Because biological reactions and physiological processes at synapses occur under conditions where stochastic behavior is dominant, simulation approaches must be driven by such stochastic processes. MCell provides a powerful simulation approach that employs particle-based stochastic simulation tools to study presynaptic processes in realistic and complex (3D) geometries using optimized Monte Carlo algorithms to track finite numbers of molecules as they diffuse and interact in a complex cellular space with other molecules in solution and on surfaces (representing membranes, channels and binding sites). In this review we discuss MCell-based spatially realistic models of the mammalian and frog neuromuscular active zones that were developed to study presynaptic mechanisms that control transmitter release. In particular, these models focus on the role of presynaptic voltage-gated calcium channels, calcium sensors that control the probability of synaptic vesicle fusion, and the effects of action potential waveform shape on presynaptic calcium entry. With the development of these models, they can now be used in the future to predict disease-induced changes to the active zone, and the effects of candidate therapeutic approaches.more » « less
null (Ed.)Analysis of the presynaptic action potential’s (AP syn ) role in synaptic facilitation in hippocampal pyramidal neurons has been difficult due to size limitations of axons. We overcame these size barriers by combining high-resolution optical recordings of membrane potential, exocytosis, and Ca 2+ in cultured hippocampal neurons. These recordings revealed a critical and selective role for K v 1 channel inactivation in synaptic facilitation of excitatory hippocampal neurons. Presynaptic K v 1 channel inactivation was mediated by the K v β1 subunit and had a surprisingly rapid onset that was readily apparent even in brief physiological stimulation paradigms including paired-pulse stimulation. Genetic depletion of K v β1 blocked all broadening of the AP syn during high-frequency stimulation and eliminated synaptic facilitation without altering the initial probability of vesicle release. Thus, using all quantitative optical measurements of presynaptic physiology, we reveal a critical role for presynaptic K v channels in synaptic facilitation at presynaptic terminals of the hippocampus upstream of the exocytic machinery.more » « less
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Long-term potentiation (LTP) is a cellular mechanism of learning and memory that results in a sustained increase in the probability of vesicular release of neurotransmitter. However, previous work in hippocampal area CA1 of the adult rat revealed that the total number of vesicles per synapse decreases following LTP, seemingly inconsistent with the elevated release probability. Here, electron-microscopic tomography (EMT) was used to assess whether changes in vesicle density or structure of vesicle tethering filaments at the active zone might explain the enhanced release probability following LTP. The spatial relationship of vesicles to the active zone varies with functional status. Tightly docked vesicles contact the presynaptic membrane, have partially formed SNARE complexes, and are primed for release of neurotransmitter upon the next action potential. Loosely docked vesicles are located within 8 nm of the presynaptic membrane where SNARE complexes begin to form. Nondocked vesicles comprise recycling and reserve pools. Vesicles are tethered to the active zone via filaments composed of molecules engaged in docking and release processes. The density of tightly docked vesicles was increased 2 h following LTP compared to control stimulation, whereas the densities of loosely docked or nondocked vesicles congregating within 45 nm above the active zones were unchanged. The tethering filaments on all vesicles were shorter and their attachment sites shifted closer to the active zone. These findings suggest that tethering filaments stabilize more vesicles in the primed state. Such changes would facilitate the long-lasting increase in release probability following LTP.
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