Mitochondrial Ca2+ buffering regulates synaptic transmission between retinal amacrine cells
The diverse functions of retinal amacrine cells are reliant on the physiological properties of their synapses. Here we examine the role of mitochondria as Ca2+ buffering organelles in synaptic transmission between GABAergic amacrine cells. We used the protonophore p-trifluoromethoxy-phenylhydrazone (FCCP) to dissipate the membrane potential across the inner mitochondrial membrane that normally sustains the activity of the mitochondrial Ca2+ uniporter. Measurements of cytosolic Ca2+ levels reveal that prolonged depolarization-induced Ca2+ elevations measured at the cell body are altered by inhibition of mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake. Furthermore, an analysis of the ratio of Ca2+ efflux on the plasma membrane Na-Ca exchanger to influx through Ca2+ channels during voltage steps indicates that mitochondria can also buffer Ca2+ loads induced by relatively brief stimuli. Importantly, we also demonstrate that mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake operates at rest to help maintain low cytosolic Ca2+ levels. This aspect of mitochondrial Ca2+ buffering suggests that in amacrine cells, the normal function of Ca2+-dependent mechanisms would be contingent upon ongoing mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake. To test the role of mitochondrial Ca2+ buffering at amacrine cell synapses, we record from amacrine cells receiving GABAergic synaptic input. The Ca2+ elevations produced by inhibition of mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake are localized and sufficient in magnitude to stimulate exocytosis, indicating that mitochondria help to maintain low levels of exocytosis at rest. However, we found that inhibition of mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake during evoked synaptic transmission results in a reduction in the charge transferred at the synapse. Recordings from isolated amacrine cells reveal that this is most likely due to the increase in the inactivation of presynaptic Ca2+ channels observed in the absence of mitochondrial Ca2+ buffering. These results demonstrate that mitochondrial Ca2+ buffering plays a critical role in the function of amacrine cell synapses.
Publication Source (Journal or Book title)
Journal of Neurophysiology
Medler, K., & Gleason, E. (2002). Mitochondrial Ca2+ buffering regulates synaptic transmission between retinal amacrine cells. Journal of Neurophysiology, 87 (3), 1426-1439. https://doi.org/10.1152/jn.00627.2001