[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Multiple independent mutations in neuroligin genes were identified in patients with familial autism, including the R451C substitution in neuroligin-3 (NL3). Previous studies showed that NL3(R451C) knock-in mice exhibited modestly impaired social behaviors, enhanced water maze learning abilities, and increased synaptic inhibition in the somatosensory cortex, and they suggested that the behavioral changes in these mice may be caused by a general shift of synaptic transmission to inhibition. Here, we confirm that NL3(R451C) mutant mice behaviorally exhibit social interaction deficits and electrophysiologically display increased synaptic inhibition in the somatosensory cortex. Unexpectedly, however, we find that the NL3(R451C) mutation produced a strikingly different phenotype in the hippocampus. Specifically, in the hippocampal CA1 region, the NL3(R451C) mutation caused an ∼1.5-fold increase in AMPA receptor-mediated excitatory synaptic transmission, dramatically altered the kinetics of NMDA receptor-mediated synaptic responses, induced an approximately twofold up-regulation of NMDA receptors containing NR2B subunits, and enhanced long-term potentiation almost twofold. NL3 KO mice did not exhibit any of these changes. Quantitative light microscopy and EM revealed that the NL3(R451C) mutation increased dendritic branching and altered the structure of synapses in the stratum radiatum of the hippocampus. Thus, in NL3(R451C) mutant mice, a single point mutation in a synaptic cell adhesion molecule causes context-dependent changes in synaptic transmission; these changes are consistent with the broad impact of this mutation on murine and human behaviors, suggesting that NL3 controls excitatory and inhibitory synapse properties in a region- and circuit-specific manner.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2011; 108(33):13764-9. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: At a synapse, fast synchronous neurotransmitter release requires localization of Ca(2+) channels to presynaptic active zones. How Ca(2+) channels are recruited to active zones, however, remains unknown. Using unbiased yeast two-hybrid screens, we here identify a direct interaction of the central PDZ domain of the active-zone protein RIM with the C termini of presynaptic N- and P/Q-type Ca(2+) channels but not L-type Ca(2+) channels. To test the physiological significance of this interaction, we generated conditional knockout mice lacking all multidomain RIM isoforms. Deletion of RIM proteins ablated most neurotransmitter release by simultaneously impairing the priming of synaptic vesicles and by decreasing the presynaptic localization of Ca(2+) channels. Strikingly, rescue of the decreased Ca(2+)-channel localization required the RIM PDZ domain, whereas rescue of vesicle priming required the RIM N terminus. We propose that RIMs tether N- and P/Q-type Ca(2+) channels to presynaptic active zones via a direct PDZ-domain-mediated interaction, thereby enabling fast, synchronous triggering of neurotransmitter release at a synapse.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Piccolo and bassoon are highly homologous multidomain proteins of the presynaptic cytomatrix whose function is unclear. Here, we generated piccolo knockin/knockout mice that either contain wild-type levels of mutant piccolo unable to bind Ca(2+) (knockin), approximately 60% decreased levels of piccolo that is C-terminally truncated (partial knockout), or <5% levels of piccolo (knockout). All piccolo mutant mice were viable and fertile, but piccolo knockout mice exhibited increased postnatal mortality. Unexpectedly, electrophysiology and electron microscopy of piccolo-deficient synapses failed to uncover a major phenotype either in acute hippocampal slices or in cultured cortical neurons. To unmask potentially redundant functions of piccolo and bassoon, we thus acutely knocked down expression of bassoon in wild-type and piccolo knockout neurons. Despite a nearly complete loss of piccolo and bassoon, however, we still did not detect an electrophysiological phenotype in cultured piccolo- and bassoon-deficient neurons in either GABAergic or glutamatergic synaptic transmission. In contrast, electron microscopy revealed a significant reduction in synaptic vesicle clustering in double bassoon/piccolo-deficient synapses. Thus, we propose that piccolo and bassoon play a redundant role in synaptic vesicle clustering in nerve terminals without directly participating in neurotransmitter release.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2010; 107(14):6504-9. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Synapses maintain synchronous, asynchronous, and spontaneous forms of neurotransmission that are distinguished by their Ca(2+) dependence and time course. Despite recent advances in our understanding of the mechanisms that underlie these three forms of release, it remains unclear whether they originate from the same vesicle population or arise from distinct vesicle pools with diverse propensities for release. Here, we used a reversible inhibitor of dynamin, dynasore, to dissect the vesicle pool dynamics underlying the three forms of neurotransmitter release in hippocampal GABAergic inhibitory synapses. In dynasore, evoked synchronous release and asynchronous neurotransmission detected after activity showed marked and unrecoverable depression within seconds. In contrast, spontaneous release remained intact after intense stimulation in dynasore or during prolonged (approximately 1 h) application of dynasore at rest, suggesting that separate recycling pathways maintain evoked and spontaneous synaptic vesicle trafficking. In addition, simultaneous imaging of spectrally separable styryl dyes revealed that, in a given synapse, vesicles that recycle spontaneously and in response to activity do not mix. These findings suggest that evoked synchronous and asynchronous release originate from the same vesicle pool that recycles rapidly in a dynamin-dependent manner, whereas a distinct vesicle pool sustains spontaneous release independent of dynamin activation. This result lends additional support to the notion that synapses harbor distinct vesicle populations with divergent release properties that maintain independent forms of neurotransmission.
Journal of Neuroscience 01/2010; 30(4):1363-76. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The presynaptic active zone is composed of a protein network that contains ELKS2alpha (a.k.a. CAST) as a central component. Here we demonstrate that in mice, deletion of ELKS2alpha caused a large increase in inhibitory, but not excitatory, neurotransmitter release, and potentiated the size, but not the properties, of the readily-releasable pool of vesicles at inhibitory synapses. Quantitative electron microscopy revealed that the ELKS2alpha deletion did not change the number of docked vesicles or other ultrastructural parameters of synapses, except for a small decrease in synaptic vesicle numbers. The ELKS2alpha deletion did, however, alter the excitatory/inhibitory balance and exploratory behaviors, possibly as a result of the increased synaptic inhibition. Thus, as opposed to previous studies indicating that ELKS2alpha is essential for mediating neurotransmitter release, our results suggest that ELKS2alpha normally restricts release and limits the size of the readily-releasable pool of synaptic vesicles at the active zone of inhibitory synapses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Alpha-latrotoxin induces neurotransmitter release by stimulating synaptic vesicle exocytosis via two mechanisms: (1) A Ca(2+)-dependent mechanism with neurexins as receptors, in which alpha-latrotoxin acts like a Ca(2+) ionophore, and (2) a Ca(2+)-independent mechanism with CIRL/latrophilins as receptors, in which alpha-latrotoxin directly stimulates the transmitter release machinery. Here, we show that the Ca(2+)-independent release mechanism by alpha-latrotoxin requires the synaptic SNARE-proteins synaptobrevin/VAMP and SNAP-25, and, at least partly, the synaptic active-zone protein Munc13-1. In contrast, the Ca(2+)-dependent release mechanism induced by alpha-latrotoxin does not require any of these components of the classical synaptic release machinery. Nevertheless, this type of exocytotic neurotransmitter release appears to fully operate at synapses, and to stimulate exocytosis of the same synaptic vesicles that participate in physiological action potential-triggered release. Thus, synapses contain two parallel and independent pathways of Ca(2+)-triggered exocytosis, a classical, physiological pathway that operates at the active zone, and a novel reserve pathway that is recruited only when Ca(2+) floods the synaptic terminal.
Journal of Neuroscience 08/2009; 29(27):8639-48. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Munc18-1 and soluble NSF attachment protein receptors (SNAREs) are critical for synaptic vesicle fusion. Munc18-1 binds to the SNARE syntaxin-1 folded into a closed conformation and to SNARE complexes containing open syntaxin-1. Understanding which steps in fusion depend on the latter interaction and whether Munc18-1 competes with other factors such as complexins for SNARE complex binding is critical to elucidate the mechanisms involved. In this study, we show that lentiviral expression of Munc18-1 rescues abrogation of release in Munc18-1 knockout mice. We describe point mutations in Munc18-1 that preserve tight binding to closed syntaxin-1 but markedly disrupt Munc18-1 binding to SNARE complexes containing open syntaxin-1. Lentiviral rescue experiments reveal that such disruption selectively impairs synaptic vesicle priming but not Ca(2+)-triggered fusion of primed vesicles. We also find that Munc18-1 and complexin-1 bind simultaneously to SNARE complexes. These results suggest that Munc18-1 binding to SNARE complexes mediates synaptic vesicle priming and that the resulting primed state involves a Munc18-1-SNARE-complexin macromolecular assembly that is poised for Ca(2+) triggering of fusion.
The Journal of Cell Biology 04/2009; 184(5):751-64. · 10.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mints/X11s are neuronal adaptor proteins that bind to amyloid-beta precursor protein (APP). Previous studies suggested that Mint/X11 proteins influence APP cleavage and affect production of pathogenic amyloid-beta (Abeta) peptides in Alzheimer's disease; however, the biological significance of Mint/X11 binding to APP and their possible role in Abeta production remain unclear. Here, we crossed conditional and constitutive Mint1, Mint2, and Mint3 knock-out mice with transgenic mouse models of Alzheimer's disease overproducing human Abeta peptides. We show that deletion of all three individual Mint proteins delays the age-dependent production of amyloid plaque numbers and Abeta40 and Abeta42 levels with loss of Mint2 having the largest effect. Acute conditional deletion of all three Mints in cultured neurons suppresses the accumulation of APP C-terminal fragments and the secretion of ectodomain APP by decreasing beta-cleavage but does not impair subsequent gamma-cleavage. These results suggest that the three Mint/X11 proteins regulate Abeta production by a novel mechanism that may have implications for therapeutic approaches to altering APP cleavage in Alzheimer's disease.
Journal of Neuroscience 01/2009; 28(53):14392-400. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: During synaptic vesicle fusion, the soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor-attachment protein receptor (SNARE) protein syntaxin-1 exhibits two conformations that both bind to Munc18-1: a "closed" conformation outside the SNARE complex and an "open" conformation in the SNARE complex. Although SNARE complexes containing open syntaxin-1 and Munc18-1 are essential for exocytosis, the function of closed syntaxin-1 is unknown. We generated knockin/knockout mice that expressed only open syntaxin-1B. Syntaxin-1B(Open) mice were viable but succumbed to generalized seizures at 2 to 3 months of age. Binding of Munc18-1 to syntaxin-1 was impaired in syntaxin-1B(Open) synapses, and the size of the readily releasable vesicle pool was decreased; however, the rate of synaptic vesicle fusion was dramatically enhanced. Thus, the closed conformation of syntaxin-1 gates the initiation of the synaptic vesicle fusion reaction, which is then mediated by SNARE-complex/Munc18-1 assemblies.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Baby hamster kidney (BHK) fibroblasts increase their cell capacitance by 25-100% within 5 s upon activating maximal Ca influx via constitutively expressed cardiac Na/Ca exchangers (NCX1). Free Ca, measured with fluo-5N, transiently exceeds 0.2 mM with total Ca influx amounting to approximately 5 mmol/liter cell volume. Capacitance responses are half-maximal when NCX1 promotes a free cytoplasmic Ca of 0.12 mM (Hill coefficient approximately 2). Capacitance can return to baseline in 1-3 min, and responses can be repeated several times. The membrane tracer, FM 4-64, is taken up during recovery and can be released at a subsequent Ca influx episode. Given recent interest in signaling lipids in membrane fusion, we used green fluorescent protein (GFP) fusions with phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate (PI(4,5)P(2)) and diacylglycerol (DAG) binding domains to analyze phospholipid changes in relation to these responses. PI(4,5)P(2) is rapidly cleaved upon activating Ca influx and recovers within 2 min. However, PI(4,5)P(2) depletion by activation of overexpressed hM1 muscarinic receptors causes only little membrane fusion, and subsequent fusion in response to Ca influx remains massive. Two results suggest that DAG may be generated from sources other than PI(4,5)P in these protocols. First, acylglycerols are generated in response to elevated Ca, even when PI(4,5)P(2) is metabolically depleted. Second, DAG-binding C1A-GFP domains, which are brought to the cell surface by exogenous ligands, translocate rapidly back to the cytoplasm in response to Ca influx. Nevertheless, inhibitors of PLCs and cPLA2, PI(4,5)P(2)-binding peptides, and PLD modification by butanol do not block membrane fusion. The cationic agents, FM 4-64 and heptalysine, bind profusely to the extracellular cell surface during membrane fusion. While this binding might reflect phosphatidylserine (PS) "scrambling" between monolayers, it is unaffected by a PS-binding protein, lactadherin, and by polylysine from the cytoplasmic side. Furthermore, the PS indicator, annexin-V, binds only slowly after fusion. Therefore, we suggest that the luminal surfaces of membrane vesicles that fuse to the plasmalemma may be rather anionic. In summary, our results provide no support for any regulatory or modulatory role of phospholipids in Ca-induced membrane fusion in fibroblasts.
The Journal of General Physiology 08/2008; 132(1):29-50. · 4.73 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) are characterized by impairments in social behaviors that are sometimes coupled to specialized cognitive abilities. A small percentage of ASD patients carry mutations in genes encoding neuroligins, which are postsynaptic cell-adhesion molecules. We introduced one of these mutations into mice: the Arg451-->Cys451 (R451C) substitution in neuroligin-3. R451C mutant mice showed impaired social interactions but enhanced spatial learning abilities. Unexpectedly, these behavioral changes were accompanied by an increase in inhibitory synaptic transmission with no apparent effect on excitatory synapses. Deletion of neuroligin-3, in contrast, did not cause such changes, indicating that the R451C substitution represents a gain-of-function mutation. These data suggest that increased inhibitory synaptic transmission may contribute to human ASDs and that the R451C knockin mice may be a useful model for studying autism-related behaviors.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: At the synapse, SNAP-25, along with syntaxin/HPC-1 and synaptobrevin/VAMP, forms SNARE N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor [soluble (NSF) attachment protein receptor] complexes that are thought to catalyze membrane fusion. Results from neuronal cultures of synaptobrevin-2 knockout (KO) mice showed that loss of synaptobrevin has a more severe effect on calcium-evoked release than on spontaneous release or on release evoked by hypertonicity. In this study, we recorded neurotransmitter release from neuronal cultures of SNAP-25 KO mice to determine whether they share this property. In neurons lacking SNAP-25, as those deficient in synaptobrevin-2, we found that approximately 10-12% of calcium-independent excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter release persisted. However, in contrast to synaptobrevin-2 knockouts, this remaining readily releasable pool in SNAP-25-deficient synapses was virtually insensitive to calcium-dependent-evoked stimulation. Although field stimulation reliably evoked neurotransmitter release in synaptobrevin-2 KO neurons, responses were rare in neurons lacking SNAP-25, and unlike synaptobrevin-2-deficient synapses, SNAP-25-deficient synapses did not exhibit facilitation of release during high-frequency stimulation. This severe loss of evoked exocytosis was matched by a reduction, but not a complete loss, of endocytosis during evoked stimulation. Moreover, synaptic vesicle turnover probed by FM-dye uptake and release during hypertonic stimulation was relatively unaffected by the absence of SNAP-25. This last difference indicates that in contrast to synaptobrevin, SNAP-25 does not directly function in endocytosis. Together, these results suggest that SNAP-25 has a more significant role in calcium-secretion coupling than synaptobrevin-2.
Journal of Neurophysiology 09/2007; 98(2):794-806. · 3.30 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Cholesterol is a prominent component of nerve terminals. To examine cholesterol's role in central neurotransmission, we treated hippocampal cultures with methyl-beta-cyclodextrin, which reversibly binds cholesterol, or mevastatin, an inhibitor of cholesterol biosynthesis, to deplete cholesterol. We also used hippocampal cultures from Niemann-Pick type C1-deficient mice defective in intracellular cholesterol trafficking. These conditions revealed an augmentation in spontaneous neurotransmission detected electrically and an increase in spontaneous vesicle endocytosis judged by horseradish peroxidase uptake after cholesterol depletion by methyl-beta-cyclodextrin. In contrast, responses evoked by action potentials and hypertonicity were severely impaired after the same treatments. The increase in spontaneous vesicle recycling and the decrease in evoked neurotransmission were reversible upon cholesterol addition. Cholesterol removal did not impact on the low level of evoked neurotransmission seen in the absence of synaptic vesicle SNARE protein synaptobrevin-2 whereas the increase in spontaneous fusion remained. These results suggest that synaptic cholesterol balances evoked and spontaneous neurotransmission by hindering spontaneous synaptic vesicle turnover and sustaining evoked exo-endocytosis.
The Journal of Physiology 04/2007; 579(Pt 2):413-29. · 4.38 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: CASK is an evolutionarily conserved multidomain protein composed of an N-terminal Ca2+/calmodulin-kinase domain, central PDZ and SH3 domains, and a C-terminal guanylate kinase domain. Many potential activities for CASK have been suggested, including functions in scaffolding the synapse, in organizing ion channels, and in regulating neuronal gene transcription. To better define the physiological importance of CASK, we have now analyzed CASK "knockdown" mice in which CASK expression was suppressed by approximately 70%, and CASK knockout (KO) mice, in which CASK expression was abolished. CASK knockdown mice are viable but smaller than WT mice, whereas CASK KO mice die at first day after birth. CASK KO mice exhibit no major developmental abnormalities apart from a partially penetrant cleft palate syndrome. In CASK-deficient neurons, the levels of the CASK-interacting proteins Mints, Veli/Mals, and neurexins are decreased, whereas the level of neuroligin 1 (which binds to neurexins that in turn bind to CASK) is increased. Neurons lacking CASK display overall normal electrical properties and form ultrastructurally normal synapses. However, glutamatergic spontaneous synaptic release events are increased, and GABAergic synaptic release events are decreased in CASK-deficient neurons. In contrast to spontaneous neurotransmitter release, evoked release exhibited no major changes. Our data suggest that CASK, the only member of the membrane-associated guanylate kinase protein family that contains a Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase domain, is required for mouse survival and performs a selectively essential function without being in itself required for core activities of neurons, such as membrane excitability, Ca2+-triggered presynaptic release, or postsynaptic receptor functions.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 03/2007; 104(7):2525-30. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Central synapses exhibit spontaneous neurotransmitter release that is selectively regulated by cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA). We now show that synaptic vesicles contain synaptotagmin-12, a synaptotagmin isoform that differs from classical synaptotagmins in that it does not bind Ca(2+). In synaptic vesicles, synaptotagmin-12 forms a complex with synaptotagmin-1 that prevents synaptotagmin-1 from interacting with SNARE complexes. We demonstrate that synaptotagmin-12 is phosphorylated by cAMP-dependent PKA on serine(97), and show that expression of synaptotagmin-12 in neurons increases spontaneous neurotransmitter release by approximately threefold, but has no effect on evoked release. Replacing serine(97) by alanine abolishes synaptotagmin-12 phosphorylation and blocks its effect on spontaneous release. Our data suggest that spontaneous synaptic-vesicle exocytosis is selectively modulated by a Ca(2+)-independent synaptotagmin isoform, synaptotagmin-12, which is controlled by cAMP-dependent phosphorylation.
The Journal of Cell Biology 02/2007; 176(1):113-24. · 10.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mints/X11s are adaptor proteins composed of three isoforms: neuron-specific Mints 1 and 2, and the ubiquitously expressed Mint 3. We have now analyzed constitutive and conditional knock-out mice for all three Mints/X11s. We found that approximately 80% of mice lacking both neuron-specific Mint isoforms (Mints 1 and 2) die at birth, whereas mice lacking any other combination of Mint isoforms survive normally. The approximately 20% surviving Mint 1/2 double knock-out mice exhibit a decrease in weight and deficits in motor behaviors. Hippocampal slice electrophysiology uncovered a decline in spontaneous neurotransmitter release, lowered synaptic strength, and enhanced paired-pulse facilitation in Mint-deficient mice, suggesting a decreased presynaptic release probability. Acute ablation of Mint expression in cultured neurons from conditional Mint 1/2/3 triple knock-in mice also revealed a decline in spontaneous release, confirming that deletion of Mints impair presynaptic function. Quantitation of synaptic proteins showed that acute deletion of Mints caused a selective increase in Munc18-1 and Fe65 proteins, and overexpression of Munc18-1 in wild-type neurons also produced a decrease in spontaneous release, suggesting that the interaction of Mints with Munc18-1 may contribute to the presynaptic phenotype observed in Mint-deficient mice. Our studies thus indicate that Mints are important regulators of presynaptic neurotransmitter release that are essential for mouse survival.
Journal of Neuroscience 01/2007; 26(50):13089-101. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Synapsins are abundant synaptic-vesicle phosphoproteins that are known to regulate neurotransmitter release but whose precise function has been difficult to pinpoint. Here, we use knockout mice to analyze the role of synapsins 1 and 2 in the calyx of Held synapse, allowing precise measurements of neurotransmitter release. We find that deletion of synapsins did not induce significant changes in spontaneous release or release evoked by isolated action potentials (APs) and did not alter the size of the readily releasable vesicle pool (RRP), the kinetics of RRP depletion, or the rate of recovery of the RRP after depletion. Deletion of synapsins, however, did increase use-dependent synaptic depression induced by a high-frequency stimulus train (> or = 50 Hz). The increased depression was due to a decrease in the fraction of the RRP, whose release was evoked by APs late in the stimulus train. The effect of synapsin deletions was occluded by intracellular application of the Ca2+-chelator EGTA or of a calmodulin inhibitor. Our results show that synapsins boost the release probability during high-frequency stimulation and suggest that this effect involves Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent phosphorylation of synapsins.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2006; 103(8):2880-5. · 9.81 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses are a newly-recognized group of lysosomal storage disorders in which neurodegeneration predominates. The pathophysiological basis for this is unknown. In the current paper, we sought to determine whether neurons that lack the enzyme responsible for the infantile form of neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (INCL) display abnormalities in culture that could be related to the clinical disorder. Electrophysiological and fluorescent dye studies were performed using cortical neuronal cultures established from postnatal day 2 palmitoyl-protein thioesterase-1 (Ppt1) knockout mice. We found a 30% reduction in synaptic vesicle number per bouton that was progressive with time in culture as well as an elevation in lysosomal pH, whereas a number of passive and active membrane properties of the neurons were normal. The reduction in vesicle pool size was also reflected in a decrease in the frequency of miniature synaptic currents. The progressive and gradual decline in vesicle numbers and miniature event frequency we observed here may be an early indicator of synapse degeneration, in keeping with observations during competitive stimulation at the neuromuscular junction or age-related synapse elimination recently reported by others. PPT1 did not colocalize with synaptic vesicle or synapse markers, suggesting that lysosomal dysfunction leads indirectly to the synaptic abnormalities. We conclude that from an early age, neurons deficient in PPT1 enzyme activity display intrinsically abnormal properties that could potentially explain key features of the clinical disease, such as myoclonus and seizures.
Neurobiology of Disease 12/2005; 20(2):314-23. · 5.62 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To study synapse formation by neuroligins, we co-cultured hippocampal neurons with COS cells expressing wild type and mutant neuroligins. The large size of COS cells makes it possible to test the effect of neuroligins presented over an extended surface area. We found that a uniform lawn of wild type neuroligins displayed on the cell surface triggers the formation of hundreds of uniformly sized, individual synaptic contacts that are labeled with neurexin antibodies. Electron microscopy revealed that these artificial synapses contain a presynaptic active zone with docked vesicles and often feature a postsynaptic density. Neuroligins 1, 2, and 3 were active in this assay. Mutations in two surface loops of neuroligin 1 abolished neuroligin binding to neurexin 1beta, a presumptive presynaptic binding partner for postsynaptic neuroligins, and blocked synapse formation. An analysis of mutant neuroligins with an amino acid substitution that corresponds to a mutation described in patients with an autistic syndrome confirmed previous reports that these mutant neuroligins have a compromised capacity to be transported to the cell surface. Nevertheless, the small percentage of mutant neuroligins that reached the cell surface still induced synapse formation. Viewed together, our data suggest that neuroligins generally promote artificial synapse formation in a manner that is associated with beta-neurexin binding and results in morphologically well differentiated synapses and that a neuroligin mutation found in autism spectrum disorders impairs cell-surface transport but does not completely abolish synapse formation activity.
Journal of Biological Chemistry 07/2005; 280(23):22365-74. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Spontaneous synaptic vesicle fusion is a common property of all synapses. To trace the origin of spontaneously fused vesicles in hippocampal synapses, we tagged vesicles with fluorescent styryl dyes, antibodies against synaptotagmin-1, or horseradish peroxidase. We could show that synaptic vesicles recycle at rest, and after spontaneous exo-endocytosis, they populate a reluctantly releasable pool of limited size. Interestingly, vesicles in this spontaneously labeled pool were more likely to re-fuse spontaneously compared to vesicles labeled with activity. We found that blocking vesicle refilling at rest selectively depleted neurotransmitter from spontaneously fusing vesicles without significantly altering evoked transmission. Furthermore, in the absence of the vesicle SNARE protein synaptobrevin (VAMP), activity-dependent and spontaneously recycling vesicles could mix, suggesting a role for synaptobrevin in the separation of the two pools. Taken together these results suggest that spontaneously recycling vesicles and activity-dependent recycling vesicles originate from distinct pools with limited cross-talk with each other.