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Eur J Neurosci. 2016 Sep;44(5):2272-84. doi: 10.1111/ejn.13331. Epub 2016 Aug 18.

The active zone protein CAST regulates synaptic vesicle recycling and quantal size in the mouse hippocampus.

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Division of Neuronal Network, Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Institute of Medical Science, University of Tokyo, Tokyo, 108-8639, Japan.
Department of Biochemistry, University of Yamanashi, Chuo, 409-3898, Japan.
KAN Research Institute, Kobe, Japan.
Department of Molecular Biology, Osaka Medical Center for Cancer and Cardiovascular Diseases, Osaka, Japan.
Department of Anatomy and Embryology, Hokkaido University Graduate School of Medicine, Sapporo, Japan.
Department of Clinical Laboratory and Molecular Pathology, Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical Science for Research, University of Toyama, Toyama, Japan.
Division of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Kobe University Graduate School of Medicine, Kobe, Japan.


Synaptic efficacy is determined by various factors, including the quantal size, which is dependent on the amount of neurotransmitters in synaptic vesicles at the presynaptic terminal. It is essential for stable synaptic transmission that the quantal size is kept within a constant range and that synaptic efficacy during and after repetitive synaptic activation is maintained by replenishing release sites with synaptic vesicles. However, the mechanisms for these fundamental properties have still been undetermined. We found that the active zone protein CAST (cytomatrix at the active zone structural protein) played pivotal roles in both presynaptic regulation of quantal size and recycling of endocytosed synaptic vesicles. In the CA1 region of hippocampal slices of the CAST knockout mice, miniature excitatory synaptic responses were increased in size, and synaptic depression after prolonged synaptic activation was larger, which was attributable to selective impairment of synaptic vesicle trafficking via the endosome in the presynaptic terminal likely mediated by Rab6. Therefore, CAST serves as a key molecule that regulates dynamics and neurotransmitter contents of synaptic vesicles in the excitatory presynaptic terminal in the central nervous system.


excitatory synapse; neurotransmitter release; presynaptic terminal; synaptic vesicle dynamics

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