Chemical synaptic transmission provides the basis for much of the rapid signaling that occurs within neuronal networks. However, recent studies have provided compelling evidence that synapses are not used exclusively for communication between neurons. Physiological and anatomical studies indicate that a distinct class of glia known as NG2+ cells also forms direct synaptic junctions with both glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons. Glutamatergic signaling can influence intracellular Ca2+ levels in NG2+ cells by activating Ca2+ permeable AMPA receptors, and these inputs can be potentiated through high frequency stimulation. Although the significance of this highly differentiated form of communication remains to be established, these neuro-glia synapses might enable neurons to influence rapidly the behavior of this ubiquitous class of glial progenitors.
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