Neuroscience Seminar Series:
Erwin Neher – Nobel prize, and director of the Max Plank Institut of Biochemistry, Göttingen
‘Exploring short term synaptic plasticity: does biophysics help to undertand synaptic function?’
The Calyx of Held – a glutamatergic giant nerve terminal in the auditory pathway – is large enough, that presynaptic whole-cell recordings can be performed with excellent control over voltage and the ionic milieu. This allows one to perform a multitude of ‘biophysical’ studies, such as determination of release rates as a function of [Ca++] using caged-Ca, or estimation of the release-ready pool of vesicles and its dynamics. Here, I will summarize such studies and address the question, in how far this information is useful to predict the short-term plasticity features, as observed postsynaptically when stimulating the afferent fiber of an unperturbed Calyx. It turns out, that a precise description of short-term- facilitation and –depression, as well as of its recovery requires a model, which is substantially more complex, than anticipated.