Earlier findings had suggested that spontaneous and evoked glutamate release activates non-overlapping populations of NMDA receptors. Here, we evaluated whether AMP Areceptor populations activated by spontaneous and evoked release show a similar segregation. To track the receptors involved in spontaneous or evoked neurotransmission, we used a polyamine agent, philanthotoxin, that selectively blocks AMPA receptors lacking GluR2 subunits in a use- dependent manner. In hippocampal neurons obtained from GluR2-deficient mice, philanthotoxin application decreased AMPA-receptor-mediated spontaneous miniature EPSCs (AMPA-mEPSCs) down to 20% of their initial level within 5 min. In contrast, the same philanthotoxin application at rest decreased the subsequent AMPA-receptormediated evoked EPSCs (eEPSCs) only down to 80% of their initial value. A 10-min-long perfusion of philanthotoxin further decreased AMPA-eEPSC amplitudes to 60% of their initial magnitude, which remained substantially higher than the level of AMPA-mEPSC block achieved within 5 min. Finally, stimulation after removal of philanthotoxin resulted in reversal of AMPA-eEPSC block, verifying strict use dependence of philanthotoxin. These results support the notion that spontaneous and evoked neurotransmission activate distinct sets of AMPA receptors and bolster the hypothesis that synapses harbor separate microdomains of evoked and spontaneous signaling.
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