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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 1994 Aug;6(4):561-7.

Formation of synaptic vesicles.

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  • 1Department of Cell Biology, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06510.


Synaptic vesicles (SVs) are specialized secretory organelles used for the fast and focal signaling between nerve cells. They are small and homogeneous in size (50 nm), and contain non-peptide neurotransmitters such as glutamate, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and acetylcholine. The exocytosis of SVs occurs at low rates in resting nerve terminals and is greatly stimulated by depolarization-induced Ca2+ influx. Following exocytosis, SV membranes are rapidly retrieved, refilled locally with neurotransmitters and reused for the assembly of new SVs. Over the past few years, significant progress has been made in characterizing the molecular composition of SVs. From these studies, we know that SVs share a conserved set of membrane proteins with transport vesicles involved in other pathways. Furthermore, these findings have provided us with a new understanding about the evolutionary origin of SVs from recycling vesicles present in all cells.

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