Three modes of synaptic vesicular recycling revealed by single-vesicle imaging

Nature. 2003 Jun 5;423(6940):607-13. doi: 10.1038/nature01677.


Synapses recycle their spent vesicles in order to keep up with on-going neurotransmitter release. To investigate vesicle recycling in the small synapses of hippocampal neurons, we have used an optical recording method that permits us to resolve single-vesicle events. Here we show that an exocytic event can terminate with three modes of vesicle retrieval: a fast (400-860 ms) 'kiss-and-run' mode that has a selective fusion pore; a slow (8-21 s) 'compensatory' mode; and a 'stranded' mode of recycling, in which a vesicle is left on the cell surface until a nerve impulse triggers its retrieval. We have also observed that, in response to a nerve impulse, synapses with low release probability primarily use the kiss-and-run mode, whereas high release probability terminals predominantly use the compensatory mode of vesicle retrieval.

MeSH terms

  • Acids
  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Buffers
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Endocytosis*
  • Evoked Potentials / physiology
  • Exocytosis*
  • Fluorescence
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism
  • Probability
  • Pyramidal Cells / cytology
  • Pyramidal Cells / physiology
  • Rats
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Time Factors


  • Acids
  • Buffers