A Sequential Two-Step Priming Scheme Reproduces Diversity in Synaptic Strength and Short-Term Plasticity


Lin KH, Taschenberger H, Neher E


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Aug 23;119(34):e2207987119.


Glutamatergic synapses display variable strength and diverse short-term plasticity (STP), even for a given type of connection. Using nonnegative tensor factorization and conventional state modeling, we demonstrate that a kinetic scheme consisting of two sequential and reversible steps of release-machinery assembly and a final step of synaptic vesicle (SV) fusion reproduces STP and its diversity among synapses. Analyzing transmission at the calyx of Held synapses reveals that differences in synaptic strength and STP are not primarily caused by variable fusion probability (pfusion) but are determined by the fraction of docked synaptic vesicles equipped with a mature release machinery. Our simulations show that traditional quantal analysis methods do not necessarily report pfusion of SVs with a mature release machinery but reflect both pfusion and the distribution between mature and immature priming states at rest. Thus, the approach holds promise for a better mechanistic dissection of the roles of presynaptic proteins in the sequence of SV docking, two-step priming, and fusion. It suggests a mechanism for activity-induced redistribution of synaptic efficacy.


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