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J Physiol 1989 Dec 01;419:225-51.
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Direct measurement of ACh release from exposed frog nerve terminals: constraints on interpretation of non-quantal release.

1. Acetylcholine (ACh) release from enzymatically exposed frog motor nerve terminals has been measured directly with closely apposed outside-out clamped patches of Xenopus myocyte membrane, rich in ACh receptor channels. When placed close to the synaptic surface of the terminal, such a membrane patch detects both nerve-evoked patch currents (EPCs) and spontaneous quantal 'miniature' patch currents (MPCs), from a few micrometres length of the terminal, in response to ACh release from the nearest three to five active zones. 2. Chemical measurements of ACh efflux from whole preparations revealed a spontaneous release rate of 4.1 pmol (2 h)-1, and no significant difference in resting efflux between enzyme-treated and control preparations. The ratio of enzyme-treated to contralateral control muscle efflux averaged 1.17, indicating that enzyme treatment did not affect spontaneous ACh release. Vesamicol (1.7 microM), which blocks the ACh transporter in synaptic vesicles, decreased the spontaneous release of ACh to 67% of control. 3. In the absence of nerve stimulation, the frequency of single-channel openings recorded by outside-out patch probes adjacent to nerve terminals was very low (1-2 min-1), and little different at a distance of hundreds of micrometres, suggesting that if ACh was continually leaking from the terminal in a non-quantal fashion, the amount being released near active zone regions on the terminal was below the limit of detection with the patches. 4. Direct measurements of the sensitivity of the patches, coupled with calculated ACh flux rates, lead to the conclusion that the amount of ACh released non-quantally from the synaptic surface of the frog nerve terminal is less than one-tenth the amount expected if all non-quantal release is from this region of the terminal membrane. 5. Following a series of single nerve shocks or a 50 Hz train of nerve stimuli, the frequency of asynchronous single-channel openings increased for several seconds. This transient increase in channel openings was not sensitive to movement of the patch electrode a significant distance (4 microns) away from the active sites, or to manipulations previously reported to block non-quantal transmitter leakage, including addition of 10 mM-Ca2+ or 1.7 microM-vesamicol to the bath. These channel openings appear to be due to an accumulation of ACh which originated from many evoked quanta, and not the effect of locally increased non-quantal ACh release due to nerve stimulation. 6. We conclude that transmitter leakage at adult frog terminals is either localized to a source other than the synaptic surface of the nerve terminal, or released in a widespread and diffuse fashion from many sources, which may include the nerve terminal.

PubMed ID: 2621630
PMC ID: PMC1190006
Article link: J Physiol
Grant support: [+]

References [+] :
Anderson, Voltage clamp analysis of acetylcholine produced end-plate current fluctuations at frog neuromuscular junction. 1974, Pubmed