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Methods Mol Biol. 2008;440:349-69. doi: 10.1007/978-1-59745-178-9_26.

FM 1-43 labeling of synaptic vesicle pools at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction.

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VIB, Department of Molecular and Developmental Genetics and K.U. Leuven, Center for Human Genetics, Leuven, Belgium.


To maintain transmitter release during intense stimulation, neurons need to efficiently recycle vesicles at the synapse. Following membrane fusion, vesicles are reshaped and formed from the plasma membrane by bulk or clathrin-mediated endocytosis. Most synapses, including the Drosophila neuromuscular junction (NMJ), can also recycle synaptic vesicles directly by closing the fusion pore, a process referred to as "kiss and run." While the process of clathrin-mediated vesicle retrieval is under intense investigation, the kiss-and-run phenomenon remains much less accepted. To gain better insight into the mechanisms of synaptic vesicle recycling, it is therefore critical not only to identify and characterize novel players involved in the process, but also to develop novel methods to study vesicle recycling. Although in recent years numerous techniques to study vesicle traffic have been developed (see also this volume), in this chapter we outline established procedures that use the fluorescent dye FM 1-43 or related compounds to study vesicle cycling. We describe how FM 1-43 can be used to study and visualize clathrin-mediated or bulk endocytosis from the presynaptic membrane as well as exocytosis of labeled vesicles at the Drosophila NMJ, one of the best-characterized model synapses to study synaptic function in a genetic model system.

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