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Mechanisms of Short Term Plasticity in Presynaptic Homeostatic Plasticity

  • Author(s): Ortega, Jennifer Maria;
  • Advisor(s): Davis, Graeme W;
  • et al.

Presynaptic homeostatic plasticity (PHP) compensates for impaired postsynaptic neurotransmitter receptor function through a rapid, persistent adjustment of neurotransmitter release, an effect that can exceed 200%. An unexplained property of PHP is the preservation of short-term plasticity (STP), thereby stabilizing activity-dependent synaptic information transfer. This dissertation aims to understand the mechanisms that stabilize STP during PHP. We use a combination of electrophysiology, genetics, and biochemistry at the Drosophila NMJ to answer this question. We demonstrate that the dramatic potentiation of presynaptic release during PHP is achieved while simultaneously maintaining a constant ratio of primed to super-primed synaptic vesicles, thereby preserving STP. Mechanistically, genetic, biochemical and electrophysiological evidence argue that a constant ratio of primed to super-primed synaptic vesicles is achieved by the concerted action of three proteins: Unc18, Syntaxin1A and RIM. Our data support a model based on the regulated availability of Unc18 at the presynaptic active zone, a process that is restrained by Syntaxin1A and facilitated by RIM. As such, regulated vesicle priming/super-priming enables PHP to stabilize both synaptic gain and the activity-dependent transfer of information at a synapse.

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