Depolarization without calcium can release gamma-aminobutyric acid from a retinal neuron

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Science  16 Oct 1987:
Vol. 238, Issue 4825, pp. 350-355
DOI: 10.1126/science.2443977


Calcium influx is often an essential intermediate step for the release of neurotransmitter. However, some retinal neurons appear to release transmitter by a mechanism that does not require calcium influx. It was uncertain whether depolarization released calcium from an intracellular store or released transmitter by a mechanism that does not require calcium. The possibility that voltage, and not calcium, can regulate the release of transmitter was studied with pairs of solitary retinal neurons. Horizontal and bipolar cells were isolated from fish retinas and juxtaposed in culture. Communication between them was studied with electrophysiological methods. A horizontal cell released its neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid, when depolarized during conditions that buffered the internal calcium concentration and prohibited calcium entry. The speed and amount of material released were sufficient for a contribution to synaptic transmission.

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