A giant synapse and membrane capacitance measurements

29 Aug 2013

Zacharie Taoufiq and Kohgaku Eguchi, researchers at the Cellular and Molecular Synaptic Function Unit led by Prof. Tomoyuki Takahashi, combined their expertise in biochemistry and electrophysiology and discovered that the enzyme called Rho-kinase plays a critical role in the regulation of signal transmission between neurons. 

In this study, the researchers used the “calyx of Held,” a giant synapse in the auditory brainstem of rats. This presynaptic terminal is large enough for optical identification in slices and allows patch-clamp recordings from the presynaptic terminal. In the left figure, a fluorescent dye had been injected into the presynaptic terminal via a glass pipette. The right diagram shows the membrane capacitance measurement method. The membrane capacitance is directly proportional to membrane area, so exocytosis causes a membrane capacitance increase, and endocytosis causes a decrease in membrane capacitance.

The result of this study was published in the July 17, 2013 edition of the Journal of Neuroscience.

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