Vesicle availability partly determines the efficacy of synaptic communication in the CNS. The authors recently found that some hippocampal glutamate vesicles exhibit reluctance to exocytose during short, high-frequency action potential trains. These same vesicles can be "coaxed" into exocytosis by increased Ca2+ entry, by direct depolarization of synaptic terminals, or by challenge with hypertonic sucrose, a tool used to cause fusion of the population of release-ready synaptic vesicles. Interestingly, the authors did not find evidence of reluctance at hippocampal GABA synapses, suggesting that vesicle reluctance might be a negative feedback mechanism to prevent runaway excitation. It is also possible that synapses exhibit reluctance to retain a dormant population of readily accessible vesicles, ready to respond to triggers such as enhanced Ca2+ influx or neuromodulators. Recent work from the calyx of Held synapse suggests that reluctance might arise from inactivation of Ca2+ channels. The authors review this work, along with several other potential mechanisms of reluctance.
- Readily releasable pool of vesicles
- Release probability
- Synaptic vesicle