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Nature. 2003 Jun 5;423(6940):607-13.

Three modes of synaptic vesicular recycling revealed by single-vesicle imaging.

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Neurosciences Program, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093, USA.


Synapses recycle their spent vesicles in order to keep up with on-going neurotransmitter release. To investigate vesicle recycling in the small synapses of hippocampal neurons, we have used an optical recording method that permits us to resolve single-vesicle events. Here we show that an exocytic event can terminate with three modes of vesicle retrieval: a fast (400-860 ms) 'kiss-and-run' mode that has a selective fusion pore; a slow (8-21 s) 'compensatory' mode; and a 'stranded' mode of recycling, in which a vesicle is left on the cell surface until a nerve impulse triggers its retrieval. We have also observed that, in response to a nerve impulse, synapses with low release probability primarily use the kiss-and-run mode, whereas high release probability terminals predominantly use the compensatory mode of vesicle retrieval.

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