TGF-β2 alters the characteristics of the neuromuscular junction by regulating presynaptic quantal size

Sitt Wai Fong, Ian S McLennan, Andrew McIntyre, Jayne Reid, Kathleen I J Shennan, Guy S Bewick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


The amount of neurotransmitter released from a presynaptic terminal is the product of the quantal content (number of vesicles) and the presynaptic quantal size (QSpre, amount of transmitter per vesicle). QSpre varies with synaptic use, but its regulation is poorly understood. The motor nerve terminals at the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) contain TGF-beta receptors. We present evidence that TGF-beta2 regulates QSpre at the NMJ. Application of TGF-beta2 to the rat diaphragm NMJ increased the postsynaptic response to both spontaneous and evoked release of acetylcholine, whereas antibodies to TGF-beta2 or its receptor had the converse effect. L-vesamicol and bafilomycin blocked the actions of TGF-beta2, indicating that TGF-beta2 acts by altering the extent of vesicular filling. Recordings of the postsynaptic currents from the diaphragm were consistent with TGF-beta2 having this presynaptic action and a lesser postsynaptic effect on input resistance. TGF-beta2 also decreased quantal content by an atropine-sensitive pathway, indicating that this change is secondary to cholinergic feedback on vesicular release. Consequently, the net actions of TGF-beta2 at the NMJ were to amplify the postsynaptic effects of spontaneous transmission and to diminish the number of vesicles used per evoked stimulus, without diminishing the amount of acetylcholine released.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13515-13519
Number of pages5
Issue number30
Early online date13 Jul 2010
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2010


  • neuromuscular junction
  • motor nerve terminal
  • synaptic plasticity


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