GABA-activated chloride channels in secretory nerve endings

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Science  22 Jan 1993:
Vol. 259, Issue 5094, pp. 531-534
DOI: 10.1126/science.8380942


Neurotransmitters acting on presynaptic terminals regulate synaptic transmission and plasticity. Because of the difficulty of direct electrophysiological recording from small presynaptic terminals, little is known about the ion channels that mediate these actions or about the mechanisms by which transmitter secretion is altered. The patch-clamp technique is used to show that the predominant inhibitory presynaptic neurotransmitter, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), activates a GABAA receptor and gates a chloride channel in the membranes of peptidergic nerve terminals of the posterior pituitary. The opening of a chloride channel by GABA weakly depolarizes the nerve terminal membrane and blocks action potentials. In this way, GABA limits secretion by retarding the spread of excitation into the terminal arborization.

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