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Annu Rev Physiol. 1999;61:725-52.

Electrophysiology of synaptic vesicle cycling.

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Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Department of Membrane Biophysics, Göttingen, Germany.


Patch-clamp capacitance measurements can monitor in real time the kinetics of exocytosis and endocytosis in living cells. We review the application of this technique to the giant presynaptic terminals of goldfish bipolar cells. These terminals secrete glutamate via the fusion of small, clear-core vesicles at specialized, active zones of release called synaptic ribbons. We compare the functional characteristics of transmitter release at ribbon-type and conventional synapses, both of which have a unique capacity for fast and focal vesicle fusion. Subsequent rapid retrieval and recycling of fused synaptic vesicle membrane allow presynaptic terminals to function independently of the cell soma and, thus, as autonomous computational units. Together with the mobilization of reserve vesicle pools, local cycling of synaptic vesicles may delay the onset of vesicle pool depletion and sustain neuronal output during high stimulation frequencies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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