Synaptic vesicle pools at the frog neuromuscular junction

Neuron. 2003 Jul 31;39(3):529-41. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(03)00405-7.


We have characterized the morphological and functional properties of the readily releasable pool (RRP) and the reserve pool of synaptic vesicles in frog motor nerve terminals using fluorescence microscopy, electron microscopy, and electrophysiology. At rest, about 20% of vesicles reside in the RRP, which is depleted in about 10 s by high-frequency nerve stimulation (30 Hz); the RRP refills in about 1 min, and surprisingly, refilling occurs almost entirely by recycling, not mobilization from the reserve pool. The reserve pool is depleted during 30 Hz stimulation with a time constant of about 40 s, and it refills slowly (half-time about 8 min) as nascent vesicles bud from randomly distributed cisternae and surface membrane infoldings and enter vesicle clusters spaced at regular intervals along the terminal. Transmitter output during low-frequency stimulation (2-5 Hz) is maintained entirely by RRP recycling; few if any vesicles are mobilized from the reserve pool.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Motor Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Neuromuscular Junction / metabolism*
  • Neuromuscular Junction / ultrastructure*
  • Rana pipiens
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / ultrastructure*