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J Neurosci. 2010 Jun 9;30(23):7917-27. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5298-09.2010.

Vesicular monoamine and glutamate transporters select distinct synaptic vesicle recycling pathways.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine, San Francisco, California 94158-2517, USA.


Previous work has characterized the properties of neurotransmitter release at excitatory and inhibitory synapses, but we know remarkably little about the properties of monoamine release, because these neuromodulators do not generally produce a fast ionotropic response. Since dopamine and serotonin neurons can also release glutamate in vitro and in vivo, we have used the vesicular monoamine transporter VMAT2 and the vesicular glutamate transporter VGLUT1 to compare the localization and recycling of synaptic vesicles that store, respectively, monoamines and glutamate. First, VMAT2 segregates partially from VGLUT1 in the boutons of midbrain dopamine neurons, indicating the potential for distinct release sites. Second, endocytosis after stimulation is slower for VMAT2 than VGLUT1. During the stimulus, however, the endocytosis of VMAT2 (but not VGLUT1) accelerates dramatically in midbrain dopamine but not hippocampal neurons, indicating a novel, cell-specific mechanism to sustain high rates of release. On the other hand, we find that in both midbrain dopamine and hippocampal neurons, a substantially smaller proportion of VMAT2 than VGLUT1 is available for evoked release, and VMAT2 shows considerably more dispersion along the axon after exocytosis than VGLUT1. Even when expressed in the same neuron, the two vesicular transporters thus target to distinct populations of synaptic vesicles, presumably due to their selection of distinct recycling pathways.

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