Contribution of active zone subpopulation of vesicles to evoked and spontaneous release

J Neurophysiol. 1999 Apr;81(4):1495-505. doi: 10.1152/jn.1999.81.4.1495.


Our previous work on Drosophila synapses has suggested that two vesicle populations possessing different recycling pathways, a fast pathway emanating from the active zone and a slower pathway emanating from sites away from the active zone, exist in the terminal. The difference in recycling time between these two pathways has allowed us to create a synapse that possesses the small, active zone subpopulation without the larger, nonactive zone population. Synapses were depleted using the temperature-sensitive endocytosis mutant, shibire, which reversibly blocks vesicle recycling at the restrictive temperature. In the depleted state, both the excitatory junction potential (EJP) and spontaneous release are abolished. After shibire-induced depletion, the active zone population begins to reform within 30 s at the permissive temperature, whereas the nonactive zone population does not begin to reform until approximately 10-15 min later. Evoked release recovered at approximately the same time as the active zone population. During the time when the active zone population existed in the terminal without the nonactive zone population, enough transmitter release was available to sustain a normal evoked response for many minutes at frequencies above those produced during normal activity (flight) by this motor neuron. When only the active zone population existed in the terminal, the frequency of spontaneous release was greatly attenuated and possessed abnormal release characteristics. Spontaneous release recovered its predepletion frequency and release characteristics only after the nonactive zone population was reformed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drosophila Proteins*
  • Drosophila melanogaster / genetics*
  • Dynamins
  • Female
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases / genetics*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microtubules / physiology
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure
  • Mutation / physiology
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology
  • Neuromuscular Junction / ultrastructure
  • Synaptic Transmission / genetics
  • Synaptic Vesicles / physiology*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / ultrastructure
  • Temperature


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • GTP Phosphohydrolases
  • Dynamins
  • shi protein, Drosophila