Synaptophysin: leading actor or walk-on role in synaptic vesicle exocytosis?

Bioessays. 2004 Apr;26(4):445-53. doi: 10.1002/bies.20012.


Synaptophysin (Syp) was the first synaptic vesicle (SV) protein to be cloned. Since its discovery in 1985, it has been used by us and by many laboratories around the world as an invaluable marker to study the distribution of synapses in the brain and to uncover the basic features of the life cycle of SVs. Although single gene ablation of Syp does not lead to an overt phenotype, a large body of experimental data both in vitro and in vivo indicate that Syp (alone or in association with homologous proteins) is involved in multiple, important aspects of SV exo-endocytosis, including regulation of SNARE assembly into the fusion core complex, formation of the fusion pore initiating neurotransmitter release, activation of SV endocytosis and SV biogenesis. In this article, we summarise the main results of the studies on Syp carried out by our and other laboratories, and explain why we believe that Syp plays a major role in SV trafficking.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cytosol / metabolism
  • Dimerization
  • Endocytosis
  • Exocytosis*
  • Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer
  • Humans
  • Models, Biological
  • Phenotype
  • Protein Conformation
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Synaptic Vesicles / physiology*
  • Synaptophysin / physiology*
  • Xenopus


  • Synaptophysin
  • Calcium