To investigate the role of astrocytes in regulating synaptic transmission, we generated inducible transgenic mice that express a dominant-negative SNARE domain selectively in astrocytes to block the release of transmitters from these glial cells. By releasing adenosine triphosphate, which accumulates as adenosine, astrocytes tonically suppressed synaptic transmission, thereby enhancing the dynamic range for long-term potentiation and mediated activity-dependent, heterosynaptic depression. These results indicate that astrocytes are intricately linked in the regulation of synaptic strength and plasticity and provide a pathway for synaptic cross-talk.
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