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Rev Physiol Biochem Pharmacol. 2003;150:140-60. Epub 2003 Sep 27.

Regulation of vesicular neurotransmitter transporters.

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Institut für Anatomie und Neurowissenschaftliches Zentrum der Charité, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Philippstr. 12, 10115 Berlin, Germany.


Neurotransmitters are key molecules of neurotransmission. They are concentrated first in the cytosol and then in small synaptic vesicles of presynaptic terminals by the activity of specific neurotransmitter transporters of the plasma and the vesicular membrane, respectively. It has been shown that postsynaptic responses to single neurotransmitter packets vary over a wide range, which may be due to a regulation of vesicular neurotransmitter filling. Vesicular filling depends on the availability of transmitter molecules in the cytoplasm and the active transport into secretory vesicles relying on a proton gradient. In addition, it is modulated by vesicle-associated heterotrimeric G proteins, Galphao2 and Galphaq, which regulate VMAT activities in brain and platelets, respectively, and may also be involved in the regulation of VGLUTs. It appears that the vesicular content activates the G protein, suggesting a signal transduction form the luminal site which might be mediated by a vesicular G-protein coupled receptor or, as an alternative, possibly by the transporter itself. These novel functions of G proteins in the control of transmitter storage may link regulation of the vesicular content to intracellular signal cascades.

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