Electric fields due to synaptic currents sharpen excitatory transmission

S. Sylantyev, L.P. Savtchenko, Y.-P. Niu, A.I. Ivanov, T.P. Jensen, D.M. Kullmann, M.-Y. Xiao, D.A. Rusakov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Citations (Scopus)


The synaptic response waveform, which determines signal integration properties in the brain, depends on the spatiotemporal profile of neurotransmitter in the synaptic cleft. Here, we show that electrophoretic interactions between AMPA receptor–mediated excitatory currents and negatively charged glutamate molecules accelerate the clearance of glutamate from the synaptic cleft, speeding up synaptic responses. This phenomenon is reversed upon depolarization and diminished when intracleft electric fields are weakened through a decrease in the AMPA receptor density. In contrast, the kinetics of receptor-mediated currents evoked by direct application of glutamate are voltage-independent, as are synaptic currents mediated by the electrically neutral neurotransmitter GABA. Voltage-dependent temporal tuning of excitatory synaptic responses may thus contribute to signal integration in neural circuits.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1845-1849
Number of pages5
Issue number5871
Publication statusPublished - 2008

Bibliographical note

We thank B. Gustafsson and E. Hanse for their comments and support. This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust, the Medical Research Council (UK), European Union (Promemoria 512012) and Human Frontier Science Program (RGP50/2006), and also by the Swedish Research Council, the Swedish Society of Medicine and the Göteborg Medical Society.


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