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Keywords:

  • neurotransmission;
  • crayfish;
  • neuromuscular junction;
  • facilitation;
  • quantal analysis;
  • synapse

Abstract

Investigating the function of individual synapses is essential to understanding the mechanisms that influence the efficacy of chemical synaptic transmission. The known simplicity of the synaptic structure at the crayfish neuromuscular junction (NMJ) and its quantal nature of release allows an assessment of discrete synapses within the motor nerve terminals. Our goal in this article is to investigate the effect of the stimulation frequency on the number of active release sites (n) and the probability of release (p) at those active sites. Because methods based on direct counts often provide unstable joint estimates of (n) and (p), we base our analysis on mixture modeling. In particular, the mixture modeling approach is used to estimate (n) and (p) for stimulation frequencies of 1 Hz, 2 Hz, and 3 Hz. Our results indicate that as the stimulation frequency increases, new sites are recruited (thus increasing n) and the probability of release (p) increases. Synapse 47:15–25, 2003. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.