Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 12165473
Neuron 2002 Aug;35(3):521-33
Diffusion of glutamate from the synaptic cleft can activate high-affinity receptors, but is not thought to contribute to fast AMPA receptor-mediated transmission. Here, we show that single AMPA receptor EPSCs at the cerebellar mossy fiber-granule cell connection are mediated by both direct release of glutamate and rapid diffusion of glutamate from neighboring synapses. Immunogold localization revealed that AMPA receptors are located exclusively in postsynaptic densities, indicating that spillover of glutamate occurs between synaptic contacts. Spillover currents contributed half the synaptic charge and exhibited little trial-to-trial variability. We propose that spillover of glutamate improves transmission efficacy by both increasing the amplitude and duration of the EPSP and reducing fluctuations arising from the probabilistic nature of transmitter release.