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J Physiol. 1978 Aug;281:559-79.

Kinetic properties of normal and perturbed axonal transport of serotonin in a single identified axon.


1. The axonal transport of pulses of [3H]serotonin was studied in an axon of the serotonergic giant cerebral neurone (GCN) of Aplysia californica. 2. [3H]serotonin was transported as a discrete peak which was followed by a relatively low, smooth trail. 3. The peak broadened as it moved along the axon, sometimes skewing in the proximal direction. 4. The velocity of the transport was highly dependent on temperature, but the rate of peak broadening was not. The velocity was 130 mm per day at 23 degrees C and 48 mm per day at 14 degrees C. The rate of broadening was 143 micrometer per mm transport at 23 degrees C and 156 micrometer per mm transport at 14 degrees C. 5. In another series of experiments, almost the entire length of the lip nerve, which contained the axon of GCN, was maintained at 1--3 degrees C to block transport. The GCN's cell body and the proximal few millimetres of the nerve were maintained at 23 degrees C. As a result, the amount of [3H]serotonin in the proximal segment of the nerve increased manyfold during periods of up to 4 hr. The concentrated pulse of [3H]serotonin resulting from this treatment was transported more slowly than normal after the cooling was terminated. Sometimes, a minor peak split from the major peak of radioactivity and was transported a normal velocity. 6. Incubation of the cerebral ganglion and nerves for 16 hr in the presence of anisomycin, an inhibitor of protein synthesis, reduced by nearly fourfold the amount of [3H]serotonin subsequently exported into the axon of the GCN. The transport velocity at this reduced concentration was less than half the normal value. If the concentration of [3H]serotonin in the axon was restored to normal in the presence of anisomycin, the velocity of transport was also returned to normal. 7. We conclude that the velocity of transport of serotonergic vesicles in the axon of the GCN is positively dependent on the local concentration of vesicles, except at very high concentrations, where the dependence is negative. The results are interpreted in the context of a model for transport in which the serotonergic vesicle is translocated along the axon in an intermittent fashion, alternating between moving and stationary states. The local concentration of the vesicles along the axon would control the observed velocity of transport by altering the partitioning between the two states, that is, by changing the percentage of time vesicles spend in each state.

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