Publication Date



Open access

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Physiology and Biophysics (Medicine)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Karl L Magleby

Second Committee Member

Kenneth J. Muller

Third Committee Member

John C. Hackman

Fourth Committee Member

David Landowne

Fifth Committee Member

Robert S. Wilkinson


Synaptic transmission alters the strength of the postsynaptic potential, through a process called short-term synaptic plasticity (STP). In this study, endplate potentials (EPPs) from the frog neuromuscular junction were used to resolve and quantify the presynaptic components involved in enhancement and depression of transmitter release during repetitive stimulation under normal quantal release conditions (2 mM Ca2+, 1mM Mg2+). During trains of stimulation given between 10 - 200 Hz, the amplitude of the EPPs first increased then decreased; a maximum increase of 77% was produced after 2-4 stimuli. EPP amplitudes began to increase at ~ 20 Hz, were maximal at ~ 55 Hz, and thereafter, decreased as the rate of stimulation increased. The integrated total release after 25 stimuli was little changed across frequencies between 10 - 100 Hz. EPPs ran down in two phases: a fast phase, attributed to the depletion of a readily releasable pool (RRP) of synaptic vesicles, followed by a slow phase, attributed to the depletion of vesicles from a depot pool (DP). Depletion of the readily releasable pool of synaptic vesicles (RRP) was determined by quantifying release under the fast and slow time rundowns and subtracting the number of vesicles associated with mobilization to the RRP from the total number of vesicles released during stimulation trains of 50 impulses. Impulses were delivered at 12 different rates ranging from 50 to 200 /s. Estimates of the number of vesicles released from the RRP increased with frequency of stimulation until maximal depletion levels of 5500 - 6000 vesicles were reached at stimulation rates between 90-130/s, assuming a control quantal content of 200 vesicles released per impulse. Depletion was less at lower frequencies when the number of stimuli delivered was identical. When the RRP maximally depleted, release was inversely related to stimulation rate, as would be expected if mobilization from the depot pool was the sole determinate of release during the slow phase. An equation constructed from four known components of enhancement and two components of depression - the depletion of vesicles from a readily releasable pool (RRP) and from the depot pool (DP) that refills the RRP, was used to fit and then simulate EPPs obtained during trains using different patterns of stimulation and varying amounts of extracellular Ca2+; the decay time constant parameters of enhancement, numerically derived from the observed data, were fixed at tau ~ 46, 220, 1600, and 20000 ms. The number of components of enhancement necessary to approximate the data decreased, from four in low (0.14 - 0.2mM) extracellular Ca2+, to one (tau ~ 46 ms) in 2.0 mM extracellular Ca2+, but four components of enhancement were necessary to fit the data when the amplitude of the EPP was not depressed below the control amplitude. This model was able to predict within ~ 3 % EPP amplitudes over a 10-fold range of frequency and Ca2+ concentration.


Synaptic Transmission; Short Term Plasticity; Neuromuscular Junction; Facilitation; Augmentation; Depression; Model; Frog; F1; F2; Synaptic Plasticity; Readily Releasable Pool; Synaptic Vesicles; Reserve Pool; Mobilization