Cerebellar long-term potentiation (LTP) is a use-dependent increase in the strength of the granule cell-Purkinje neuron synapse that occurs after brief stimulation of granule cell axons at 2-8 Hz. Previous work has shown that cerebellar LTP also may be seen when synaptic currents are evoked in granule cell-glial cell pairs in culture. This finding suggests a model in which cerebellar LTP is expressed presynaptically and therefore may be detected by either neuronal or glial postsynaptic cells. However, synaptic currents evoked in both granule cell-glial cell pairs and granule cell- Purkinje neuron pairs in culture are mediated primarily by α-amino-3- hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA)/kainate receptors, raising the possibility that cerebellar LTP might be expressed post-synaptically in both glial cells and Purkinje neurons in a similar manner. To address this question, glutamate transport current were recorded in granule cell-glial cell pairs in culture by pharmacological isolation. These currents were increased by substitution of internal C1 with NO3 and were blocked by L- pyrolidine-2,4-dicarboxylate, both characteristics of the major cloned Bergmann glial cell glutamate transporter, EAATI. After acquisition of baseline responses, LTP of isolated transport current was evoked by stimulation at 4 Hz (100 pulses) and could be blocked by removal of external Ca during this stimulation. The expression of LTP was associated with a decrease in the rate of synaptic failures and a decrease in the degree of paired-pulse facilitation. These findings, when taken together with the previous observation that both Purkinje neuron and glial AMPA/kainate responses can be used to detect cerebellar LTP, strongly suggest that the expression of cerebellar LTP is, at least in part, presynaptic. This strategy should also be useful in illuminating the locus of expression of other model systems of information storage such as hippocampal LTP/long-term depression.
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