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Nat Commun. 2017 May 10;8:15293. doi: 10.1038/ncomms15293.

Heterodimerization of Munc13 C2A domain with RIM regulates synaptic vesicle docking and priming.

Author information

Institute of Neurophysiology, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, 10117 Berlin, Germany.
NeuroCure Cluster of Excellence, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, 10117 Berlin, Germany.
Department of Neuroscience, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas 77030, USA.
Departments of Biophysics, Biochemistry and Pharmacology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390, USA.


The presynaptic active zone protein Munc13 is essential for neurotransmitter release, playing key roles in vesicle docking and priming. Mechanistically, it is thought that the C2A domain of Munc13 inhibits the priming function by homodimerization, and that RIM disrupts the autoinhibitory homodimerization forming monomeric priming-competent Munc13. However, it is unclear whether the C2A domain mediates other Munc13 functions in addition to this inactivation-activation switch. Here, we utilize mutations that modulate the homodimerization and heterodimerization states to define additional roles of the Munc13 C2A domain. Using electron microscopy and electrophysiology in hippocampal cultures, we show that the C2A domain is critical for additional steps of vesicular release, including vesicle docking. Optimal vesicle docking and priming is only possible when Munc13 heterodimerizes with RIM via its C2A domain. Beyond being a switching module, our data suggest that the Munc13-RIM heterodimer is an active component of the vesicle docking, priming and release complex.

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