Genetic and molecular analysis of synaptic vesicle recycling in Drosophila

J Neurocytol. Jun-Sep 2003;32(5-8):567-89. doi: 10.1023/B:NEUR.0000020611.44254.86.


Following exocytosis, one of the major presynaptic events is replenishing synaptic vesicles (SVs) to ensure the possibility of continuous synaptic transmission. The nerve terminal is thought to recycle SVs through clathrin-mediated endocytosis and by a clathrin-independent pathway called "kiss and run". This review highlights the use of the genetic model organism, the fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster), in dissecting the molecular mechanisms of clathrin-mediated endocytosis in recycling SVs at neuromuscular junctions (NMJs). Analyses of endocytotic mutants in Drosophila indicate that clathrin-mediated endocytosis may be essential for SV recycling, including a putative fast recycling mechanism uncovered recently. Further, a rather complex picture begins to emerge suggesting that clathrin-mediated endocytosis involves several sequential steps mediated by a large number of proteins. Finally, these studies also reveal that SV proteins may be selectively retrieved into nascent SVs by clathrin accessory proteins and defects in protein retrieval have significant impacts on synaptic transmission. Following the completion of the Drosophila Genome Project and the development of gene targeting and RNAi approaches, genetic studies in Drosophila have become increasingly efficient. Hence, Drosophila is expected to continue to serve as an important model organism for studies of SV recycling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Clathrin / genetics
  • Clathrin / metabolism
  • Clathrin-Coated Vesicles / genetics
  • Clathrin-Coated Vesicles / metabolism
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Endocytosis / physiology
  • Humans
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Synaptic Vesicles / genetics*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / ultrastructure


  • Clathrin