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Neuron. 2000 Oct;28(1):205-20.

Quantal release of serotonin.

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Max-Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry, Department of Neurobiology, Göttingen, Germany.


We have studied the origin of quantal variability for small synaptic vesicles (SSVs) and large dense-cored vesicles (LDCVs). As a model, we used serotonergic Retzius neurons of leech that allow for combined amperometrical and morphological analyses of quantal transmitter release. We find that the transmitter amount released by a SSV varies proportionally to the volume of the vesicle, suggesting that serotonin is stored at a constant intravesicular concentration and is completely discharged during exocytosis. Transmitter discharge from LDCVs shows a higher degree of variability than is expected from their size distribution, and bulk release from LDCVs is slower than release from SSVs. On average, differences in the transmitter amount released from SSVs and LDCVs are proportional to the size differences of the organelles, suggesting that transmitter is stored at similar concentrations in SSVs and LDCVs.

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