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Developmental profiles of glutamate receptors and synaptic transmission at a single synapse in the mouse auditory brainstem

Developmental profiles of glutamate receptors and synaptic transmission at a single synapse in the mouse auditory brainstem

Journal of Physiology 540(Pt 3): 861-873

ISSN/ISBN: 0022-3751

PMID: 11986375

DOI: 10.1113/jphysiol.2001.013506

Using whole-cell recordings from presynaptic terminals and postsynaptic principal neurons in the mouse medial nucleus of the trapezoid body (MNTB), we have characterized properties of the calyx of Held synapse during the first three postnatal weeks. We observed that evoked excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) mediated by NMDA receptors (NMDAR) increased until postnatal day 11/12 (P11/12) after which they declined to very low or undetectable levels at P16. Meanwhile, EPSCs mediated by AMPA receptors (AMPAR) showed an approximate three-fold increase in amplitude. These changes were paralleled by NMDAR and AMPAR currents evoked by exogenous NMDA and kainate to MNTB neurons except that whole-cell kainate currents remained constant after P7/8 while AMPAR-EPSCs continued to increase. We found that the decay time constant tau for NMDAR-EPSCs and AMPAR-EPSCs declined by about 30% and 70%, respectively. Analyses of NMDAR-EPSCs with subunit-specific pharmacological agents including ifenprodil, N,N,N',N'-tetrakis(2-pyridylmethyl)-ethylenediamine (TPEN), zinc and Mg2+ revealed subtle developmental changes in subunit composition. As maturation progressed, this synapse displayed a reduction in the number of presynaptic spike failures and the extent of synaptic depression in response to trains of stimuli (50-300 Hz) while the recovery rate from depression accelerated. These results demonstrate profound changes in the size and kinetics of postsynaptic glutamate receptors and in the spike-firing capability of presynaptic terminals at the calyx of Held-MNTB synapse during early development. We suggest that these concurrent presynaptic and postsynaptic adaptations represent important steps for synapse consolidation and refinement and ultimately for the development of fast high-fidelity transmission at this synapse.

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Accession: 010452715

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