γ-Aminobutyric acid type A (GABAA) receptors, a family of Cl--permeable ion channels, mediate fast synaptic inhibition as postsynaptically enriched receptors for γ-aminobutyric acid at GABAergic synapses. Here we describe an alternative type of inhibition mediated by GABAA receptors present on neocortical glutamatergic nerve terminals and examine the underlying signaling mechanism(s). By monitoring the activity of the presynaptic CaM kinase II/synapsin I signaling pathway in isolated nerve terminals, we demonstrate that GABAA receptor activation correlated with an increase in basal intraterminal [Ca2+]i. Interestingly, this activation of GABAA receptors resulted in a reduction of subsequent depolarization-evoked Ca2+ influx, which thereby led to an inhibition of glutamate release. To investigate how the observed GABAA receptor-mediated modulation operates, we determined the sensitivity of this process to the Na-K-2Cl cotransporter 1 antagonist bumetanide, as well as substitution of Ca2+ with Ba2+, or Ca2+/calmodulin inhibition by W7. All of these treatments abolished the modulation by GABAA receptors. Application of selective antagonists of voltage-gated Ca2+ channels (VGCCs) revealed that the GABAA receptor-mediated modulation of glutamate release required the specific activity of L- and R-type VGCCs. Crucially, the inhibition of release by these receptors was abolished in terminals isolated from R-type VGCC knock-out mice. Together, our results indicate that a functional coupling between nerve terminal GABAA receptors and L- or R-type VGCCs is mediated by Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent signaling. This mechanism provides a GABA-mediated control of glutamatergic synaptic activity by a direct inhibition of glutamate release
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