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J Biol Chem. 2006 Jun 9;281(23):15671-9. Epub 2006 Apr 4.

Differential sorting of the vesicular glutamate transporter 1 into a defined vesicular pool is regulated by light signaling involving the clock gene Period2.

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AG Functional Cell Biology, Centre for Anatomy, Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, 10115 Berlin, Germany.


Synaptic strength depends on the amount of neurotransmitter stored in synaptic vesicles. The vesicular transmitter content has recently been shown to be directly dependent on the expression levels of vesicular neurotransmitter transporters indicating that the transport capacity of synaptic vesicles is a critical determinant for synaptic efficacy. Using synaptic vesicles prepared from whole brain at different times of the day we now show that the amount of vesicular glutamate transporter (VGLUT) 1 undergoes strong diurnal cycling. VGLUT1 protein levels are high before the start of the light period, decline at noon, increase again before start of the dark period, and decline again at midnight. Mice kept in complete darkness showed within a 24-h period only a single peak of VGLUT1 expression in the middle of the rest phase. In contrast, mice lacking the period gene Period 2, a core component of the circadian clock, did not show any light-cycle-dependent changes of VGLUT1 levels. No other of several synaptic vesicle proteins examined underwent circadian cycling. Circadian cycling of VGLUT1 was not seen when analyzing homogenate or synaptosomes, the starting fraction for vesicle preparation. Circadian cycling of VGLUT1 was also not reflected at the mRNA level. We conclude that nerve terminals are endowed with mechanisms that regulate quantal size by changing the copy number of transporters in synaptic vesicles. A reduced amount of VGLUT1 per vesicle is probably achieved by means of selective sorting controlled by clock genes.

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