Presynaptic Changes Accompanying Transmission of a Single Nerve Impulse: An Interdisciplinary Approach Using Rapid Freezing

  • Y. Dunant
  • L. M. Garcia-Segura
  • G. J. Jones
  • F. Loctin
  • D. Muller
  • A. Parducz
Part of the Advances in Behavioral Biology book series (ABBI, volume 30)


The electric organ of the fish Torpedo is an extremely favourable tool to study presynaptic aspects of cholinergic transmission, because its profuse synaptic innervation allows biochemical analysis of transmission to be combined with both electrophysiological and morphological studies. The synaptic transmission, however, as at other cholinergic synapses, is very rapid. As judged from the electrophysiological postsynaptic response, release of the transmitter acetylcholine (ACh) occurs after a delay of a few (about two) ms and lasts for only 2–4 ms. To study the presynaptic changes accompanying transmission, it is therefore necessary to act very quickly, or alternatively, to prolongate (as it were, to slow down) the processes involved. Two separate strategies can be employed to achieve these goals:
  1. 1)

    By rapid freezing of single isolated prisms (columns of electroplaques), we have been able to study changes in presynaptic ACh stores with a time resolution about the same as the duration of a burst of 20 single impulses at 100Hz. (Such bursts are very similar to the activity of the electric organ of Torpedo in its natural habitat.) Freeze-fracture morphology of the presynaptic membrane during and after a single impulse is also possible for the rapidly frozen tissue, and preliminary results indicate changes in the membrane during this time.

  2. 2)

    It is well known that 4-aminopyridine (4-AP) has a strong potentiating action at cholinergic synapses. For the Torpedo electric organ this action is predominantly one of increasing the duration of the electrical response, rather than its amplitude. The duration may be increased more than 100 times. Because this duration is much longer than the time resolution of our freezing experiments, we have been able to use rapid freezing to study both biochemical and morphological changes during the whole time course of the greatly prolonged single impulse which occurs in the presence of 4-AP.



Electric Organ Presynaptic Membrane Rapid Freezing Cholinergic Synapse Single Impulse 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Balbenoit, P. (1970): Z. Vergl. Physiol. 67: 205–216.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bald, W.B. (1983): J. Microsc. 131: 11–13.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Corthay, J., Dunant, Y. and Loctin, F. (1982): J. Physiol. ( London ) 325: 461–479.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Del Castillo, J. and Katz, B. (1957): In Microphysiologie Comparée des Elements Excitables. Colloques du CNRS, No. 67, pp. 245–258, Ed. CNRS: Paris (1957).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Dunant, Y., Gautron, J., Isragl, M., Lesbats, B. and Manaranche, R. (1972): J. Neurochem. 19: 1987–2002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Dunant, Y., Eder, L. and Servetiadis-Hirt, L. (1980): J. Physiol. ( London ) 298: 185–203.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Dunant, Y., Jones, G.J. and Loctin, F. (1982): J. Physiol. ( London ) 325: 441–460.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Dunant, Y., Jones, G.J. and Schaller-Clostre, F. (1982): J. Physiol. ( Paris ) 78: 357–365.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Escaig, J. (1982): J. Microsc. 126: 221–229.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Garcia-Segura, L.M., Muller, D., Jones, G.J. and Dunant, Y. (1985): Neuroscience (Submitted).Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Harvey, A.M. and MacIntosh, F.C. (1940): J. Physiol. ( London ) 97: 408–416.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Heuser, J. E., Reese, T.S., Dennis, M.J., Jan, Y., Jan, L. and Evans, L (1979): J. Cell. Biol. 81: 275–300.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Heuser, J. E. and Reese, T.S. (1981): J. Cell. Biol. 88: 564–580.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Israël, M., Dunant, Y. and Manaranche, R. (1979): Prog. Neuro 37–275.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Israël, M., Manaranche, R., Morel, M., Dedieu, J.C., Gulik T. and Lesbats, B. (1981): J. Ultrastruct. Res. 75: 162–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Israël, M. Lesbats, B., Manaranche, R., Morel, N., Gulik-Krzywicki, T. and Dedieu, J.C. (1982): J. Physiol. ( Paris ) 78: 348–356Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Israël, M. et al. (1984): This book.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Jehl, B., Bauer, R., Dorge, A. and Rick, R. (1981): J. Microsc. 123: 307–309.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Jones, G.J. (1984): J. Microsc. 136: 349–351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Katz, B. (1969): The Release of Neural Transmitter Substances, Liverpool University Press, Liverpool, pp. 56–60.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Moor, H. and Muhlethaler, K. (1963): J. Cell. Biol. 17: 609–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Van Harreveld, A. and Trubatch, J. (1979): J. Microsc. 115: 243–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Y. Dunant
    • 1
  • L. M. Garcia-Segura
    • 2
  • G. J. Jones
    • 1
  • F. Loctin
    • 1
  • D. Muller
    • 1
  • A. Parducz
    • 1
  1. 1.Département de PharmacologieC.M.U.Genève 4Switzerland
  2. 2.Département de MorphologieC.M.U.Genève 4Switzerland

Personalised recommendations