The nerve terminals found in the body wall of Drosophila melanogaster larvae are readily accessible to experimental manipulation. We used the light-activated ion channel, channelrhodopsin-2, which is expressed by genetic manipulation in Type II varicosities to study octopamine release in Drosophila. We report the development of a method to measure neurotransmitter release from exocytosis events at individual varicosities in the Drosophila larval system by amperometry. A microelectrode was placed in a region of the muscle containing a varicosity and held at a potential sufficient to oxidize octopamine and the terminal stimulated by blue light. Optical stimulation of Type II boutons evokes exocytosis of octopamine, which is detected through oxidization at the electrode surface. We observe 22700±4200 molecules of octopamine released per vesicle. This system provides a genetically accessible platform to study the regulation of amine release at an intact synapse.
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