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    ABSTRACT: Here we define activities of RIM-binding protein (RBP) that are essential for baseline neurotransmission and presynaptic homeostatic plasticity. At baseline, rbp mutants have a ∼10-fold decrease in the apparent Ca(2+) sensitivity of release that we attribute to (1) impaired presynaptic Ca(2+) influx, (2) looser coupling of vesicles to Ca(2+) influx, and (3) limited access to the readily releasable vesicle pool (RRP). During homeostatic plasticity, RBP is necessary for the potentiation of Ca(2+) influx and the expansion of the RRP. Remarkably, rbp mutants also reveal a rate-limiting stage required for the replenishment of high release probability (p) vesicles following vesicle depletion. This rate slows ∼4-fold at baseline and nearly 7-fold during homeostatic signaling in rbp. These effects are independent of altered Ca(2+) influx and RRP size. We propose that RBP stabilizes synaptic efficacy and homeostatic plasticity through coordinated control of presynaptic Ca(2+) influx and the dynamics of a high-p vesicle pool. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Neuron 02/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2015.01.024
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    ABSTRACT: Brain function relies on accurate information transfer at chemical synapses. At the presynaptic active zone (AZ) a variety of specialized proteins are assembled to complex architectures, which set the basis for speed, precision and plasticity of synaptic transmission. Calcium channels are pivotal for the initiation of excitation-secretion coupling and, correspondingly, capture a central position at the AZ. Combining quantitative functional studies with modeling approaches has provided predictions of channel properties, numbers and even positions on the nanometer scale. However, elucidating the nanoscopic organization of the surrounding protein network requires direct ultrastructural access. Without this information, knowledge of molecular synaptic structure-function relationships remains incomplete. Recently, super-resolution microscopy (SRM) techniques have begun to enter the neurosciences. These approaches combine high spatial resolution with the molecular specificity of fluorescence microscopy. Here, we discuss how SRM can be used to obtain information on the organization of AZ proteins.
    Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 01/2015; 9:7. DOI:10.3389/fncel.2015.00007
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    ABSTRACT: Ribbon synapses of cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) employ efficient vesicle replenishment to indefatigably encode sound. In neurons, neuroendocrine and immune cells, vesicle replenishment depends on proteins of the mammalian uncoordinated 13 (Munc13) and Ca(2+)-dependent activator proteins for secretion (CAPS) families, which prime vesicles for exocytosis. Here, we tested whether Munc13 and CAPS proteins also regulate exocytosis in mouse IHCs by combining immunohistochemistry with auditory systems physiology and IHC patch-clamp recordings of exocytosis in mice lacking Munc13 and CAPS isoforms. Surprisingly, we did not detect Munc13 or CAPS proteins at IHC presynaptic active zones (AZs) and found normal IHC exocytosis as well as auditory brainstem responses (ABRs) in Munc13 and CAPS deletion mutants. Instead, we show that otoferlin, a C2-domain protein critical for vesicular fusion and replenishment in IHCs, clusters at the plasma membrane of the presynaptic AZ. Electron tomography of otoferlin-deficient IHC synapses revealed a reduction of short tethers holding vesicles at the AZ, which might be a structural correlate of impaired vesicle priming in otoferlin-deficient IHCs. We conclude that IHCs use an unconventional priming machinery that involves otoferlin.

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May 19, 2014