Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 31558350
Neuron 2019 Sep;
The nanoscale topographical arrangement of voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCC) and synaptic vesicles (SVs) determines synaptic strength and plasticity, but whether distinct spatial distributions underpin diversity of synaptic function is unknown. We performed single bouton Ca imaging, Ca chelator competition, immunogold electron microscopic (EM) localization of VGCCs and the active zone (AZ) protein Munc13-1, at two cerebellar synapses. Unexpectedly, we found that weak synapses exhibited 3-fold more VGCCs than strong synapses, while the coupling distance was 5-fold longer. Reaction-diffusion modeling could explain both functional and structural data with two strikingly different nanotopographical motifs: strong synapses are composed of SVs that are tightly coupled (∼10 nm) to VGCC clusters, whereas at weak synapses VGCCs were excluded from the vicinity (∼50 nm) of docked vesicles. The distinct VGCC-SV topographical motifs also confer differential sensitivity to neuromodulation. Thus, VGCC-SV arrangements are not canonical, and their diversity could underlie functional heterogeneity across CNS synapses.