, Volume 32, Issue 3, pp 265-274

Characteristics of the Time Course of Evoked Secretion of Transmitter Quanta in Different Parts of the Motor Nerve Ending in the Frog

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Experiments were performed on neuromuscular preparations from frogs, in which three extracellular microelectrodes were used to record nerve ending currents and single-quantum endplate currents simultaneously from the proximal, central, and distal parts of single synaptic contacts. The rate of propagation of excitation across terminals was measured, along with the minimum synaptic delay, the intensity, and the degree of synchronicity of the secretion of transmitter quanta in different parts of the nerve ending, and the relationships between these factors and the calcium ion concentration in the medium. These studies showed that along with gradients in the rate of conduction of excitation and the intensity of secretion in different parts of the ending, there were also differences in the kinetics of the release of transmitter quanta. As the distance from the end of the myelinated part of the axon increased, the rate of conduction of the nerve impulse and the duration of the synaptic delay decreased, while the synchronicity of the release of quanta increased. Increases in the calcium concentration in the medium produced greater increases in the synchronicity of transmitter quantum release in the distal parts of the synapse than in the proximal parts. Mathematical modeling of multiple-quantum endplate currents showed that the characteristics of the kinetics of the secretion process observed here in different parts of the nerve ending represent a factor which partially compensates for the decrease in the amplitude and extending of the duration of the leading front of the multiple-quantum endplate current which are associated with the low rate of conduction of excitation across the nerve ending. The contribution of this compensation increases as the intensity of secretion of transmitter quanta increases in the distal parts of the synaptic contact.