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Brain Res. 2001 Mar 23;895(1-2):258-63.

The synaptic vesicle priming protein Munc13-1 is absent from tonically active ribbon synapses of the rat retina.

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  • 1Leibniz-Institute for Neurobiology, Department of Neurochemistry and Molecular Biology, Brenneckestrasse 6, 39118 Magdeburg, Germany.


Ribbon synapses, for example of the retina, are specialized synapses that differ from conventional, phasically active synapses in several aspects. Ribbon synapses can tonically and yet very rapidly release neurotransmitter via synaptic vesicle exocytosis. This requires an optimization of the synaptic machinery and is at least partly due to the presence of synaptic ribbons that bind large numbers of synaptic vesicles and which are believed to participate in priming synaptic vesicles for exocytosis. In this paper we analyzed whether ribbon synapses of the retina employ similar priming factors, i.e. Munc13-1, as do conventional, non-ribbon containing phasically active synapses. We found that though present in conventional synapses of the retina Munc13-1 was completely absent from ribbon-containing synapses of the retina, both in the outer as well as in the inner plexiform layer. This indicates that ribbon synapses of the retina employ other, possibly more potent priming factors than phasically active conventional synapses.

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