Jaime Tobón LM, Moser T
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2023 Dec 5;120(49):e2311539120.
In our hearing organ, sound is encoded at ribbon synapses formed by inner hair cells (IHCs) and spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs). How the underlying synaptic vesicle (SV) release is controlled by Ca2+ in IHCs of hearing animals remained to be investigated. Here, we performed patch-clamp SGN recordings of the initial rate of release evoked by brief IHC Ca2+-influx in an ex vivo cochlear preparation from hearing mice. We aimed to closely mimic physiological conditions by perforated-patch recordings from IHCs kept at the physiological resting potential and at body temperature. We found release to relate supralinearly to Ca2+-influx (power, m: 4.3) when manipulating the [Ca2+] available for SV release by Zn2+-flicker-blocking of the single Ca2+-channel current. In contrast, a near linear Ca2+ dependence (m: 1.2 to 1.5) was observed when varying the number of open Ca2+-channels during deactivating Ca2+-currents and by dihydropyridine channel-inhibition. Concurrent changes of number and current of open Ca2+-channels over the range of physiological depolarizations revealed m: 1.8. These findings indicate that SV release requires ~4 Ca2+-ions to bind to their Ca2+-sensor of fusion. We interpret the near linear Ca2+-dependence of release during manipulations that change the number of open Ca2+-channels to reflect control of SV release by the high [Ca2+] in the Ca2+-nanodomain of one or few nearby Ca2+-channels. We propose that a combination of Ca2+ nanodomain control and supralinear intrinsic Ca2+-dependence of fusion optimally links SV release to the timing and amplitude of the IHC receptor potential and separates it from other IHC Ca2+-signals unrelated to afferent synaptic transmission.