Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 25972583
J. Neurophysiol. 2015 Jul;114(1):332-40
Low-threshold voltage-activated calcium conductances (LT-VACCs) play a substantial role in shaping the electrophysiological attributes of neurites. We have investigated how these conductances affect synaptic integration in a premotor nonspiking (NS) neuron of the leech nervous system. These cells exhibit an extensive neuritic tree, do not fire Na(+)-dependent spikes, but express an LT-VACC that was sensitive to 250 μM Ni(2+) and 100 μM NNC 55-0396 (NNC). NS neurons responded to excitation of mechanosensory pressure neurons with depolarizing responses for which amplitude was a linear function of the presynaptic firing frequency. NNC decreased these synaptic responses and abolished the concomitant widespread Ca(2+) signals. Coherent with the interpretation that the LT-VACC amplified signals at the postsynaptic level, this conductance also amplified the responses of NS neurons to direct injection of sinusoidal current. Synaptic amplification thus is achieved via a positive feedback in which depolarizing signals activate an LT-VACC that, in turn, boosts these signals. The wide distribution of LT-VACC could support the active propagation of depolarizing signals, turning the complex NS neuritic tree into a relatively compact electrical compartment.