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Neuroscience. 2006 Aug 11;141(1):123-31. Epub 2006 May 3.

Differential efficiency of the endocytic machinery in tonic and phasic synapses.

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Department of Neuroscience, Center of Excellence in Developmental Biology, Karolinska Institutet, 171 77 Stockholm, Sweden.


Efficient synaptic vesicle membrane recycling is one of the key factors required to sustain neurotransmission. We investigated potential differences in the compensatory endocytic machineries in two glutamatergic synapses with phasic and tonic patterns of activity in the lamprey spinal cord. Post-embedding immunocytochemistry demonstrated that proteins involved in synaptic vesicle recycling, including dynamin, intersectin, and synapsin, occur at higher levels (labeling per vesicle) in tonic dorsal column synapses than in phasic reticulospinal synapses. Synaptic vesicle protein 2 occurred at similar levels in the two types of synapse. After challenging the synapses with high potassium stimulation for 30 min the vesicle pool in the tonic synapse was maintained at a normal level, while that in the phasic synapse was partly depleted along with expansion of the plasma membrane and accumulation of clathrin-coated intermediates at the periactive zone. Thus, our results indicate that an increased efficiency of the endocytic machinery in a synapse may be one of the factors underlying the ability to sustain neurotransmission at high rates.

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