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J Physiol Paris. 1994;88(4):249-57.

Distribution of synaptic markers in the retina: implications for synaptic vesicle traffic in ribbon synapses.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Texas Southwestern Medical School, Dallas 75235.


Synapses in the retina are present in two layers that can easily be distinguished morphologically: the thin outer plexiform layer (OPL) containing the photoreceptor ribbon synapses, and the more complex inner plexiform layer (IPL) containing mostly conventional synapses. In the current study we have used the exquisite spatial separation between ribbon and conventional synapses in the retina to investigate by immunocytochemistry the protein components of these two types of synapses. Our results show that all of the synaptic vesicle proteins tested are present in the ribbon synapses of photoreceptors except for the synapsins which were previously described to be absent from ribbon synapses. Thus, synaptic vesicles of ribbon and conventional synapses are likely to be very similar molecularly in spite of their different modes of trafficking. Furthermore, proteins with a likely function in synaptic vesicle docking and fusion (SNAP-25, munc-18) and endocytosis (dynamin) were also highly enriched in ribbon synapses, indicating that the basic machineries for synaptic membrane traffic are similar in ribbon and conventional synapses. Interestingly, photoreceptor cells contained only low concentrations of syntaxin I (which functions in the synaptic vesicle fusion complex) and GDI (which regulates the membrane association of rab-proteins as a function of GTP/GDP binding). These results raise the possibility that photoreceptors express other isoforms of these proteins, or that the functions of these proteins are not required for the tonical release mode of their synapses.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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