Infoscience

Journal article

Interaction between Facilitation and Depression at a Large CNS Synapse Reveals Mechanisms of Short-Term Plasticity

The two fundamental forms of short-term plasticity, short-term depression and facilitation, coexist at most synapses, but little is known about their interaction. Here, we studied the interplay between short-term depression and facilitation at calyx of Held synapses. Stimulation at a "low" frequency of 10 or 20 Hz, which is in the range of the spontaneous activity of these auditory neurons in vivo, induced synaptic depression. Surprisingly, an instantaneous increase of the stimulation frequency to 100 or 200 Hz following the low-frequency train uncovered a robust facilitation of EPSCs relative to the predepressed amplitude level. This facilitation decayed rapidly (similar to 30 ms) and depended on presynaptic residual Ca2+, but it was not caused by Ca2+ current facilitation. To probe the release probability of the remaining readily releasable vesicles following the low-frequency train we made presynaptic Ca2+ uncaging experiments in the predepressed state of the synapse. We found that low-frequency stimulation depletes the fast-releasable vesicle pool (FRP) down to similar to 40% of control and that the remaining FRP vesicles are released with similar to 2-fold slower release kinetics, indicating a hitherto unknown intrinsic heterogeneity among FRP vesicles. Thus, vesicles with an intrinsically lower release probability predominate after low frequency stimulation and undergo facilitation during the onset of subsequent high-frequency trains. Facilitation in the predepressed state of the synapse might help to stabilize the amount of transmitter release at the onset of high-frequency firing at these auditory synapses.

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