Endocytosis at the synaptic terminal

J Physiol. 2003 Dec 1;553(Pt 2):345-55. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2003.049221. Epub 2003 Sep 8.


Exocytosis of neurotransmitter from a synaptic vesicle is followed by efficient retrieval of its constituent membrane and proteins. Real-time measurements indicate that fast and slow modes of retrieval operate in parallel at a number of presynaptic terminals. Two mechanisms can be distinguished by electron microscopy: clathrin-mediated retrieval of small vesicles and bulk retrieval of large cisternae. Methods that investigate the behaviour of individual vesicles have recently demonstrated a third route of retrieval: the rapid reversal of a pore-like connection between the vesicle and surface ('kiss-and-run'). Key aims for the future are to identify the molecules underlying different mechanisms of endocytosis at the synapse and the signals that select between them.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clathrin / physiology
  • Dynamins / physiology
  • Endocytosis / physiology*
  • Hippocampus / physiology
  • Kinetics
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure
  • Synapses / physiology


  • Clathrin
  • Dynamins