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Neuron. 2000 Dec;28(3):857-72.

RIBEYE, a component of synaptic ribbons: a protein's journey through evolution provides insight into synaptic ribbon function.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Center for Basic Neuroscience, Department of Molecular Genetics, The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390, USA.


Photoreceptor cells utilize ribbon synapses to transmit sensory signals at high resolution. Ribbon synapses release neurotransmitters tonically, with a high release rate made possible by continuous docking of synaptic vesicles on presynaptic ribbons. We have partially purified synaptic ribbons from retina and identified a major protein component called RIBEYE. RIBEYE is composed of a unique A domain specific for ribbons, and a B domain identical with CtBP2, a transcriptional repressor that in turn is related to 2-hydroxyacid dehydrogenases. The A domain mediates assembly of RIBEYE into large structures, whereas the B domain binds NAD(+) with high affinity, similar to 2-hydroxyacid dehydrogenases. Our results define a unique component of synaptic ribbons and suggest that RIBEYE evolved in vertebrates under utilization of a preexisting protein to build a unique scaffold for a specialized synapse.

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