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J Neurosci. 1999 Nov 1;19(21):9436-44.

Membrane recycling in the neuronal growth cone revealed by FM1-43 labeling.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah 84132, USA.


Membrane dynamics within the chick ciliary neuronal growth cone were investigated by using the membrane-impermeant dye FM1-43. A depolarization-evoked endocytosis was observed that shared many properties with the synaptic vesicle recycling previously described at the presynaptic terminal. In addition, in the absence of depolarization a basal level of constitutive endocytotic activity was observed at approximately 30% of the rate of evoked endocytosis. This constitutive endocytosis accounted for large amounts of membrane retrieval: the equivalent of the entire growth cone surface area could be internalized within a 30 min period. Endosomes generated via constitutive and evoked processes were highly mobile and could move considerable distances both within the growth cone and out to the neurite. In addition to their different requirements for formation, evoked and constitutive endosomes displayed a significant difference in release properties. After a subsequent depolarization of labeled growth cones, evoked endosomes were released although constitutive endosomes were not released. Furthermore, treatment with latrotoxin released evoked endosomes, but not constitutive endosomes. Although the properties of evoked endosomes are highly reminiscent of synaptic vesicles, constitutive endosomes appear to be a separate pool resulting from a distinct and highly active process within the neuronal growth cone.

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