Neuromodulation of short-term synaptic dynamics examined in a mechanistic model based on kinetics of calcium currents

Lian Zhou, Shunbing Zhao, Farzan Nadim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Network plasticity arises in large part due to the effects of exogenous neuromodulators. We investigate the neuromodulatory effects on short-term synaptic dynamics. The synapse from the lateral pyloric (LP) to the pyloric dilator (PD) neuron in the pyloric network of the crab C. borealis has both spike-mediated and non-spike-mediated (graded) components. Previous studies have shown that the graded component of this synapse exhibits short-term depression. Recent results from our lab indicate that in the presence of the neuromodulatory peptide proctolin, low-amplitude presynaptic stimuli switch the short-term dynamics of this graded component from depression to facilitation. In this study, we show that this facilitation is correlated with the activation of a presynaptic inward current that is blocked by Mn2+, suggesting that it is a slowly accumulating Ca2+ current. We modify a mechanistic model of synaptic release by assuming that the low-voltage-activating Ca2+ current in our system is composed of two currents with fast (ICaF) and slow (ICaS) kinetics. We show that if proctolin adjusts the activation rate of ICaS, this leads to accumulation of local intracellular Ca2+ in response to multiple presynaptic voltage stimuli, which, in turn, results in synaptic facilitation. Additionally, we assume that proctolin increases the maximal conductances of Ca2+ currents in the model, consistent with the increased synaptic release found in the experiments. We find that these two presynaptic actions of proctolin in the model are sufficient to describe its actions on the short-term dynamics of the LP to PD synapse.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2050-2054
Number of pages5
Issue number10-12
StatePublished - Jun 2007

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Artificial Intelligence


  • Central pattern generator
  • Graded release
  • Proctolin
  • Short-term plasticity
  • Stomatogastric


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