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J Exp Biol. 2019 Sep 5. pii: jeb.203505. doi: 10.1242/jeb.203505. [Epub ahead of print]

Implications of the Sap47 null mutation for synapsin phosphorylation, longevity, climbing, and behavioural plasticity in adult Drosophila.

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Institute of Clinical Neurobiology, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany
Department of Neurobiology and Genetics, Biocenter, University of Würzburg, Germany.
Rudolf Schönheimer Institute of Biochemistry, Division of General Biochemistry, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany.
Physiological Chemistry, Biocenter, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.
Institute of Physiology, Department of Neurophysiology, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.
Department of Animal Physiology, Institute of Biology, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany.
Carl-Ludwig-Institute for Physiology, Leipzig University, Leipzig, Germany.
Institute of Clinical Neurobiology, University of Würzburg, Würzburg, Germany.
Leibniz Institute of Neurobiology, Magdeburg, Germany.
Institute of Experimental Internal Medicine, Otto von Guericke University, Magdeburg, Germany.
National Centre for Biological Sciences, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bangalore, India.
Institute of Biology, University of Magdeburg, Magdeburg, Germany.
Center for Behavioral Brain Sciences, Magdeburg, Germany.


The Sap47 gene of Drosophila melanogaster encodes a highly abundant 47 kDa synaptic vesicle-associated protein. Sap47 null mutants show defects in synaptic plasticity and larval olfactory associative learning but the molecular function of Sap47 at the synapse is unknown. We demonstrate that Sap47 modulates the phosphorylation of another highly abundant conserved presynaptic protein, synapsin. Site-specific phosphorylation of Drosophila synapsin has repeatedly been shown to be important for behavioural plasticity but information of where in the brain phospho-synapsin isoforms are localized has been lacking. Here we report the distribution of serine-6-phosphorylated synapsin in the adult brain and show that it is highly enriched in rings of synapses in the ellipsoid body, and in large synapses near the lateral triangle. Effects of knock-out of Sap47 or synapsin on olfactory associative learning/memory are compatible with the hypothesis that both proteins operate in the same molecular pathway. We therefore asked if this might also hold for other aspects of their function. We show that knock-out of Sap47 but not synapsin reduces life span, whereas knock-out of Sap47, synapsin or both affects climbing as well as plasticity in circadian rhythms and sleep. Furthermore, electrophysiological assessment of synaptic properties at the larval neuromuscular junction (NMJ) reveals increased spontaneous synaptic vesicle fusion and reduced paired pulse facilitation in Sap47 and synapsin single and double mutants. Our results imply that Sap47 and synapsin cooperate non-uniformly in the control of synaptic properties in different behaviourally relevant neuronal networks of the fruitfly.


Age-related decline; Behavior; Knock-out; Plasticity; Synaptic proteins


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