The calyx of Held in the auditory system: Structure, function, and development

Maryna Baydyuk, Jianhua Xu, Ling Gang Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


The calyx of Held synapse plays an important role in the auditory system, relaying information about sound localization via fast and precise synaptic transmission, which is achieved by its specialized structure and giant size. During development, the calyx of Held undergoes anatomical, morphological, and physiological changes necessary for performing its functions. The large dimensions of the calyx of Held nerve terminal are well suited for direct electrophysiological recording of many presynaptic events that are difficult, if not impossible to record at small conventional synapses. This unique accessibility has been used to investigate presynaptic ion channels, transmitter release, and short-term plasticity, providing invaluable information about basic presynaptic mechanisms of transmission at a central synapse. Here, we review anatomical and physiological specializations of the calyx of Held, summarize recent studies that provide new mechanisms important for calyx development and reliable synaptic transmission, and examine fundamental presynaptic mechanisms learned from studies using calyx as a model nerve terminal. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled <Annual Reviews 2016>.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)22-31
Number of pages10
JournalHearing Research
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems


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