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Curr Biol. 2005 Dec 20;15(24):2236-42. Epub 2005 Nov 3.

UNC-13 interaction with syntaxin is required for synaptic transmission.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Simches Research Building, 185 Cambridge Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.


Neurotransmitter secretion at synapses is controlled by several processes-morphological docking of vesicles at release sites, priming of docked vesicles to make them fusion competent, and calcium-dependent fusion of vesicles with the plasma membrane . In worms, flies, and mice, mutants lacking UNC-13 have defects in vesicle priming . Current models propose that UNC-13 primes vesicles by stabilizing Syntaxin's "open" conformation by directly interacting with its amino-terminal regulatory domain . However, the functional significance of the UNC-13/Syntaxin interaction has not been tested directly. A truncated protein containing the Munc homology domains (MHD1 and MHD2) and the carboxy-terminal C2 domain partially rescued both the behavioral and secretion defects of unc-13 mutants in C. elegans. A double mutation in MHD2 (F1000A/K1002A) disrupts the UNC-13/Syntaxin interaction. The rate of endogenous synaptic events and the amplitude of nerve-evoked excitatory post-synaptic currents (EPSCs) were both significantly reduced in UNC-13S(F1000A/K1002A). However, the pool of primed (i.e., fusion-competent) vesicles was normal. These results suggest that the UNC-13/Syntaxin interaction is conserved in C. elegans and that, contrary to current models, the UNC-13/Syntaxin interaction is required for nerve-evoked vesicle fusion rather than synaptic-vesicle priming. Thus, UNC-13 may regulate multiple steps of the synaptic-vesicle cycle.

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