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Alpha-latrotoxin (LTX) stimulates vesicular exocytosis by at least two mechanisms that include (1) receptor binding-stimulation and (2) membrane pore formation. Here, we use the toxin mutant LTX(N4C) to selectively study the receptor-mediated actions of LTX. LTX(N4C) binds to both LTX receptors (latrophilin and neurexin) and greatly enhances the frequency of spontaneous and miniature EPSCs recorded from CA3 pyramidal neurons in hippocampal slice cultures. The effect of LTX(N4C) is reversible and is not attenuated by La3+ that is known to block LTX pores. On the other hand, LTX(N4C) action, which requires extracellular Ca2+, is inhibited by thapsigargin, a drug depleting intracellular Ca2+ stores, by 2-aminoethoxydiphenyl borate, a blocker of inositol(1,4,5)-trisphosphate-induced Ca2+ release, and by U73122, a phospholipase C inhibitor. Furthermore, measurements using a fluorescent Ca2+ indicator directly demonstrate that LTX(N4C) increases presynaptic, but not dendritic, free Ca2+ concentration; this Ca2+ rise is blocked by thapsigargin, suggesting, together with electrophysiological data, that the receptor-mediated action of LTX(N4C) involves mobilization of Ca2+ from intracellular stores. Finally, in contrast to wild-type LTX, which inhibits evoked synaptic transmission probably attributable to pore formation, LTX(N4C) actually potentiates synaptic currents elicited by electrical stimulation of afferent fibers. We suggest that the mutant LTX(N4C), lacking the ionophore-like activity of wild-type LTX, activates a presynaptic receptor and stimulates Ca2+ release from intracellular stores, leading to the enhancement of synaptic vesicle exocytosis.

Type

Journal article

Journal

J Neurosci

Publication Date

15/05/2003

Volume

23

Pages

4044 - 4053

Keywords

Amino Acid Substitution, Animals, Animals, Newborn, Asparagine, Calcium, Culture Techniques, Cysteine, Evoked Potentials, Exocytosis, Hippocampus, Nerve Tissue Proteins, Neurotransmitter Agents, Point Mutation, Pyramidal Cells, Rats, Receptors, Peptide, Spider Venoms, Synaptic Transmission