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Neuron. 1999 Oct;24(2):377-87.

A phospho-switch controls the dynamic association of synapsins with synaptic vesicles.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas 75235, USA.


Synapsins constitute a family of synaptic vesicle proteins essential for regulating neurotransmitter release. Only two domains are conserved in all synapsins: a short N-terminal A domain with a single phosphorylation site for cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) and CaM Kinase I, and a large central C domain that binds ATP and may be enzymatic. We now demonstrate that synapsin phosphorylation in the A domain, at the only phosphorylation site shared by all synapsins, dissociates synapsins from synaptic vesicles. Furthermore, we show that the A domain binds phospholipids and is inhibited by phosphorylation. Our results suggest a novel mechanism by which proteins reversibly bind to membranes using a phosphorylation-dependent phospholipid-binding domain. The dynamic association of synapsins with synaptic vesicles correlates with their role in activity-dependent plasticity.

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