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Channelrhodopsin as a tool to study synaptic transmission and plasticity

Schoenenberger, Philipp, Zhang Schärer, Yan-Ping and Oertner, Thomas (2010) Channelrhodopsin as a tool to study synaptic transmission and plasticity. Experimental Physiology. ISSN 1469-445X


The light-gated cation channel channelrhodopsin-2 (ChR2) has been used in a variety of model systems to investigate the function of complex neuronal networks by stimulation of genetically targeted neurons. In slice physiology, ChR2 opens the door to novel types of experiments and greatly extends the technical possibilities offered by traditional electrophysiology.In this short review, we first consider several technical aspects concerning the use of ChR2 in slice physiology, providing examples from our own work. More specifically, we discuss differences between light-evoked action potentials (APs) and spontaneous or electrically induced APs. Our work implies that light-evoked APs are associated with increased calcium influx and a very high probability of neurotransmitter release. Furthermore, we point out the factors limiting the spatial resolution of ChR2 activation.In the second part, we discuss how synaptic transmission and plasticity can be studied using ChR2. Postsynaptic depolarization induced by ChR2 can be combined with two-photon glutamate uncaging to potentiate visually identified dendritic spines. ChR2-mediated stimulation of presynaptic axons induces neurotransmitter release and reliably activates postsynaptic spines. In conclusion, ChR2 is a powerful tool to investigate activity-dependent changes in structure and function of synapses.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: author can archive post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing); On authors personal or departmental web page or institutional repository or PubMed Central
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Date Deposited: 06 Nov 2010 00:45
Last Modified: 01 Feb 2013 00:48


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