Presynaptic NMDARs in the hippocampus facilitate transmitter release at theta frequency

Lindsay McGuinness, Chanel Taylor, Ruth D T Taylor, Christopher Yau, Tobias Langenhan, Michael L Hart, Helen Christian, Patricia W Tynan, Peter Donnelly, Nigel J Emptage

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

104 Citations (Scopus)


A rise in [Ca(2+)](i) provides the trigger for neurotransmitter release at neuronal boutons. We have used confocal microscopy and Ca(2+) sensitive dyes to directly measure the action potential-evoked [Ca(2+)](i) in the boutons of Schaffer collaterals. This reveals that the trial-by-trial amplitude of the evoked Ca(2+) transient is bimodally distributed. We demonstrate that "large" Ca(2+) transients occur when presynaptic NMDA receptors are activated following transmitter release. Presynaptic NMDA receptor activation proves critical in producing facilitation of transmission at theta frequencies. Because large Ca(2+) transients "report" transmitter release, their frequency on a trial-by-trial basis can be used to estimate the probability of release, p(r). We use this novel estimator to show that p(r) increases following the induction of long-term potentiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1109-27
Number of pages19
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 22 Dec 2010


  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Hippocampus
  • Male
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Organ Culture Techniques
  • Presynaptic Terminals
  • Rats
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate
  • Theta Rhythm
  • Comparative Study
  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


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