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Cell. 2006 Sep 22;126(6):1175-87.

A complexin/synaptotagmin 1 switch controls fast synaptic vesicle exocytosis.

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  • 1The Center for Basic Neuroscience, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX 75390, USA.


Ca(2+) binding to synaptotagmin 1 triggers fast exocytosis of synaptic vesicles that have been primed for release by SNARE-complex assembly. Besides synaptotagmin 1, fast Ca(2+)-triggered exocytosis requires complexins. Synaptotagmin 1 and complexins both bind to assembled SNARE complexes, but it is unclear how their functions are coupled. Here we propose that complexin binding activates SNARE complexes into a metastable state and that Ca(2+) binding to synaptotagmin 1 triggers fast exocytosis by displacing complexin from metastable SNARE complexes. Specifically, we demonstrate that, biochemically, synaptotagmin 1 competes with complexin for SNARE-complex binding, thereby dislodging complexin from SNARE complexes in a Ca(2+)-dependent manner. Physiologically, increasing the local concentration of complexin selectively impairs fast Ca(2+)-triggered exocytosis but retains other forms of SNARE-dependent fusion. The hypothesis that Ca(2+)-induced displacement of complexins from SNARE complexes triggers fast exocytosis accounts for the loss-of-function and gain-of-function phenotypes of complexins and provides a molecular explanation for the high speed and synchronicity of fast Ca(2+)-triggered neurotransmitter release.

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