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      Response properties from turtle auditory hair cell afferent fibers suggest spike generation is driven by synchronized release both between and within synapses.

      Journal of Neurophysiology

      Turtles, Action Potentials, physiology, Animals, Auditory Pathways, Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials, Hair Cells, Auditory, Synapses, Synaptic Vesicles, secretion

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          Inner ear hair cell afferent fiber synapses are capable of transferring information at high rates for long periods of time with extraordinary fidelity. As at other sensory synapses, hair cells rely on graded receptor potentials and unique vesicle trafficking and release properties of ribbon synapses to relay intensity information. Postsynaptic recordings from afferent fibers of the turtle auditory papilla identified excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) that were fast AMPA receptor-based responses with rapid onset and decay times. EPSCs varied in amplitude by ≈ 15× per fiber, with kinetics that showed a tendency to slow at larger amplitudes. Complex EPSCs were produced by temporal summation of single events, likely across synapses. Complex EPSCs were more efficient at generating action potentials than single EPSCs. Potassium-evoked release increased the frequency of EPSCs, in particular complex events, but did not increase EPSC amplitudes. Temporal summation of EPSCs across synapses may underlie action potential generation at these synapses. Broad amplitude histograms were probed for mechanisms of multivesicular release with reduced external Ca(2+) or the introduction of Cd(2+) or Sr(2+) to uncouple release. The results are consistent with broad amplitude histograms being generated by a combination of the variability in synaptic vesicle size and coordinated release of these vesicles. It is posited that multivesicular release plays less of a role in multisynaptic ribbon synapses than in single synaptic afferent fibers.

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