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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2009 Jun;19(3):245-53. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2009.06.005. Epub 2009 Jun 24.

Presynaptic signal transduction pathways that modulate synaptic transmission.

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Department of Functional Genomics, Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research (CNCR), Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit (VU) and VU Medical Center (VUmc), Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Presynaptic modulation is a crucial factor in the adaptive capacity of the nervous system. The coupling between incoming action potentials and neurotransmitter secretion is modulated by firstly, recent activity of the presynaptic axon that leads to the accumulation of residual calcium in the terminal and secondly, activation of presynaptic receptors by external signals. Despite the detailed description of these phenomena, the underlying mechanisms are still poorly understood. The nerve terminal contains many Ca(2+)-binding proteins that may contribute to the translation of residual Ca(2+)-increases to secretion modulation. We also found that >100 presynaptic proteins are phosphorylated and may contribute to the translation of presynaptic receptor activation to secretion modulation. However, which of these many candidates are the dominant regulators and how their activities integrate is largely unknown. Here, we review some of the recent insights into the complex interplay between presynaptic signal transduction components and propose blueprints of the major pathways.

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