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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Dec 7;96(25):14577-82.

Neuropeptide release by efficient recruitment of diffusing cytoplasmic secretory vesicles.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA.


Neuropeptides are slowly released from a limited pool of secretory vesicles. Despite decades of research, the composition of this pool has remained unknown. Endocrine cell studies support the hypothesis that a population of docked vesicles supports the first minutes of hormone release. However, it has been proposed that mobile cytoplasmic vesicles dominate the releasable neuropeptide pool. Here, to determine the cellular basis of the releasable pool, single green fluorescent protein-labeled secretory vesicles were visualized in neuronal growth cones with the use of an inducible construct or total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. We report that vesicle movement follows the diffusion equation. Furthermore, rapidly moving secretory vesicles are used more efficiently than stationary vesicles near the plasma membrane to support stimulated release. Thus, randomly moving cytoplasmic vesicles participate in the first minutes of neuropeptide release. Importantly, the preferential recruitment of diffusing cytoplasmic secretory vesicles contributes to the characteristic slow kinetics and limited extent of sustained neuropeptide release.

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