Estimates of quantal content during 'chemical potentiation' of transmitter release

Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Containing Papers of a Biological Character
B Katz, R Miledi

Abstract

The number of quantal transmitter packets (m), released from motor nerve terminals in response to a single stimulus, has been estimated from the ratio of the amplitudes of endplate currents (e.p.c.) to spontaneous miniature endplate currents (m.e.p.c.), in voltage-clamped endplates of the frog. At 6 degrees C, the average value of m at normal nerve-muscle junctions was about 300. If allowance is made for the temporal dispersion of quantal transmitter release during the e.p.c., this value is increased by about 30%. After treatment with diaminopyridine or tetraethylammonium, transmitter release in response to a nerve stimulus is greatly enhanced and values of m exceeding 10(4) are frequently found. Moreover, the duration of the e.p.c. becomes much longer than that of the m.e.p.cs. The number of packets then liberated during the e.p.c. is much larger than the number of 'active zones' of the endplate and may even exceed the total number of vesicles lined up in twin-files adjacent to the presynaptic membrane.

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