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Mol Biol Cell. 2003 Dec;14(12):4909-19. Epub 2003 Oct 3.

Synaptophysin I controls the targeting of VAMP2/synaptobrevin II to synaptic vesicles.

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Department of Neuroscience, San Raffaele Scientific Institute and Vita-Salute University, 20132 Milano, Italy.


Synaptic vesicle (SV) proteins are synthesized at the level of the cell body and transported down the axon in membrane precursors of SVs. To investigate the mechanisms underlying sorting of proteins to SVs, fluorescent chimeras of vesicle-associated membrane protein (VAMP) 2, its highly homologous isoform VAMP1 and synaptotagmin I (SytI) were expressed in hippocampal neurons in culture. Interestingly, the proteins displayed a diffuse component of distribution along the axon. In addition, VAMP2 was found to travel in vesicles that constitutively fuse with the plasma membrane. Coexpression of VAMP2 with synaptophysin I (SypI), a major resident of SVs, restored the correct sorting of VAMP2 to SVs. The effect of SypI on VAMP2 sorting was dose dependent, being reversed by increasing VAMP2 expression levels, and highly specific, because the sorting of the SV proteins VAMP1 and SytI was not affected by SypI. The cytoplasmic domain of VAMP2 was found to be necessary for both the formation of VAMP2-SypI hetero-dimers and for VAMP2 sorting to SVs. These data support a role for SypI in directing the correct sorting of VAMP2 in neurons and demonstrate that a direct interaction between the two proteins is required for SypI in order to exert its effect.

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