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Glutamate and Acetylcholine Corelease at Developing Synapses
W.-C. Li, S. R. Soffe, Alan Roberts and Roger A. Nicoll
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Vol. 101, No. 43 (Oct. 26, 2004), pp. 15488-15493
Published by: National Academy of Sciences
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3373547
Page Count: 6
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Most neurons release a single fast-acting low-molecular-weight transmitter at synapses to activate and open postsynaptic ion channels. We challenge this principle with evidence for corelease of the two major excitatory transmitters, glutamate and acetylcholine (ACh), from single identified neurons in the developing frog tadpole spinal cord. Whole-cell patch electrodes were used to record from single spinal neurons. When action potentials and inhibition were blocked, spontaneous miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents (mEPSCs) were recorded. These were fully blocked only by joint application of glutamate [α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor (AMPAR) and N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR)] and nicotinic ACh receptor (nAChR) antagonists. Fast nAChR and slow NMDAR mEPSCs were isolated pharmacologically. We then show that some mEPSCs have both the fast nAChR rise and slow NMDAR decay and conclude that some individual synaptic vesicles corelease glutamate and ACh. Whole-cell recordings from pairs of neurons were then used to identify the spinal interneurons coreleasing the two excitatory transmitters. One anatomical class of interneuron with descending axons was found to excite other spinal neurons by activating nAChR, AMPAR, and NMDAR simultaneously at its synapses. Although Jonas, Bischofberger, and Sandkuhler [Jonas, P., Bischofberger, J. & Sandkuhler, J. (1998) Science 281, 419-424] showed that the inhibitory transmitters GABA and glycine can be coreleased at spinal synapses, the Xenopus tadpole provides a case where the two main CNS excitatory transmitters are released from single vesicles, and where the presynaptic neuron coreleasing two transmitters has been identified.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America © 2004 National Academy of Sciences