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Curr Opin Cell Biol. 2006 Apr;18(2):223-7. Epub 2006 Feb 28.

Synaptic transmission regulated by a presynaptic MALS/Liprin-alpha protein complex.

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Departments of Physiology and Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology, University of California-San Francisco, 600 16th Street, San Francisco, CA, USA.


Neurotransmission requires proper organization of synaptic vesicle pools and rapid release of vesicle contents upon presynaptic depolarization. Genetic studies have begun to reveal a critical role for scaffolding proteins in such processes. Mutations in genes encoding components of the highly conserved MALS/CASK/Mint-1 complex cause presynaptic defects. In all three mutants, neurotransmitter release is reduced in a manner consistent with aberrant vesicle cycling to the readily releasable pool. Recently, liprin-alpha proteins, which define active zone size and morphology, were found to associate with MALS/CASK, suggesting that this complex links the presynaptic release machinery to the active zone, thereby regulating neurotransmitter release.

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