Limit on the role of activity in controlling the release-ready supply of synaptic vesicles.
Typical fast chemical synapses in the brain weaken transiently during normal high-frequency use after expending their presynaptic supply of release-ready vesicles. Although it takes several seconds for the readily releasable pool (RRP) to refill during periods of rest, it has been suggested that the replenishment process may be orders of magnitude faster when synapses are active. Here, we measure this replenishment rate at active Schaffer collateral terminals by determining the maximum rate of release that can still be elicited when the RRP is almost completely exhausted. On average, we find that spent vesicles are replaced at a maximum unitary rate of 0.24/sec during periods of intense activity. Because the replenishment rate is similar during subsequent periods of rest, we conclude that no special mechanism accelerates the mobilization of neurotransmitter in active terminals beyond the previously reported, several-fold, residual calcium-driven modulation that persists for several seconds after bouts of intense synaptic activity. In the course of this analysis, we provide new evidence supporting the hypothesis that a simple enzymatic step limits the rate at which reserve synaptic vesicles become ready to undergo exocytosis.
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