The loading of neurotransmitters into synaptic vesicles

Biochimie. 2000 Apr;82(4):327-37. doi: 10.1016/s0300-9084(00)00221-2.


Classical (non-peptide) transmitters are stored into secretory vesicles by a secondary active transporter driven by a V-type H(+)-ATPase. Five vesicular neurotransmitter uptake activities have been characterized in vitro and, for three of them, the transporters involved have been identified at the molecular level using cDNA cloning and/or Caenorhabditis elegans genetics. These transporters belong to two protein families, which are both unrelated to the Na(+)-coupled neurotransmitter transporters operating at the plasma membrane. The two isoforms of the mammalian vesicular monoamine transporter, VMAT1 and VMAT2, are related to the vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VACHT), while a novel, unrelated vesicular inhibitory amino acid transporter (VIAAT), also designated vesicular GABA transporter (VGAT), is responsible for the storage of GABA, glycine or, at some synapses, both amino acids into synaptic vesicles. The observed effects of experimentally altered levels of VACHT or VMAT2 on synaptic transmission and behavior, as well as the recent awareness that GABAergic or glutamatergic receptors are not always saturated at central synapses, suggest a potential role of vesicular loading in synaptic plasticity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholine / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / genetics
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*


  • Carrier Proteins
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Acetylcholine