Postsynaptic currents at the Mauthner fiber giant synapse of the hatchetfish

W. D. Huse, J. W. Day, M. V.L. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Postsynaptic currents (PSCs) at the giant synapse between Mauthner and giant fibers of the hatchetfish Gasteropelecus were studied under voltage clamp. This axo-axonic synapse lies in the central nervous system beneath the floor of the 4th ventricle where electrodes can be closely positioned both pre- and postsynaptically. Transmission is nicotonic cholinergic. The PSCs produced by Mauthner fiber impulses rise rapidly to a peak and decay in two phases; an early more rapid phase is followed by a late slower phase. The slope conductance of the peak amplitude of the PSCs declines at more inside positive potentials. The late phase of decay is exponential and voltage dependent, becoming faster for PSCs evoked at more inside positive potentials. At potentials positive to about -40 mV the late phase merges with the early phase. The decay rate constant of the slowest phase is exponentially related to voltage for potentials negative to about -10 mV, but becomes less voltage dependent for more positive potentials. The peak current is independent of whether it is evoked during inward or outward active currents of the electrically excitable membrane, and two phase decays are observed in PSCs of reduced quantal content. Thus, changes in slope conductance and two phase decays are not due to series resistance or interactions between quanta. PSCs can be modeled by a 3 state reaction scheme in which closed channels open when they bind transmitter and then can pass to a second closed state with receptor still bound such that they must return through the open state before losing their transmitter and returning to the resting, closed state.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-141
Number of pages13
JournalBrain research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Jan 28 1985


  • Mauthner fiber
  • hatchetfish
  • kinetics
  • postsynaptic current
  • synapse
  • voltage clamp

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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