Contributions of two types of calcium channels to synaptic transmission and plasticity

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Science  23 Nov 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4984, pp. 1142-1147
DOI: 10.1126/science.2174573


In Aplysia sensory and motor neurons in culture, the contributions of the major classes of calcium current can be selectively examined while transmitter release and its modulation are examined. A slowly inactivating, dihydropyridine-sensitive calcium current does not contribute either to normal synaptic transmission or to any of three different forms of plasticity: presynaptic inhibition, homosynaptic depression, and presynaptic facilitation. This current does contribute, however, to a fourth form of plasticity--modulation of transmitter release by tonic depolarization of the sensory neuron. By contrast, a second calcium current, which is rapidly inactivating and dihydropyridine-insensitive, contributes to release elicited by the transient depolarization of an action potential and to the other three forms of plasticity.

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