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J Biol Chem. 1999 Jun 25;274(26):18290-6.

The subcellular localizations of atypical synaptotagmins III and VI. Synaptotagmin III is enriched in synapses and synaptic plasma membranes but not in synaptic vesicles.

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Center for Basic Neuroscience, Department of Molecular Genetics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, Dallas, Texas 75235, USA.


Multiple synaptotagmins are expressed in brain, but only synaptotagmins I and II have known functions in fast, synchronous Ca2+-triggered neurotransmitter release. Synaptotagmin III was proposed to regulate other aspects of synaptic vesicle exocytosis, particularly its slow component. Such a function predicts that synaptotagmin III should be an obligatory synaptic vesicle protein, as would also be anticipated from its high homology to synaptotagmins I and II. To test this hypothesis, we studied the distribution, developmental expression, and localization of synaptotagmin III and its closest homolog, synaptotagmin VI. We find that synaptotagmins III and VI are present in all brain regions in heterogeneous distributions and that their levels increase during development in parallel with synaptogenesis. Furthermore, we show by immunocytochemistry that synaptotagmin III is concentrated in synapses, as expected. Surprisingly, however, we observed that synaptotagmin III is highly enriched in synaptic plasma membranes but not in synaptic vesicles. Synaptotagmin VI was also found to be relatively excluded from synaptic vesicles. Our data suggest that synaptotagmins III and VI perform roles in neurons that are not linked to synaptic vesicle exocytosis but to other Ca2+-related nerve terminal events, indicating that the functions of synaptotagmins are more diverse than originally thought.

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