Differential signaling in presynaptic neurotransmitter release

Cell Mol Life Sci. 2005 May;62(9):937-54. doi: 10.1007/s00018-004-4525-0.


Neuronal communication is tightly regulated by presynaptic signaling, thereby temporarily and locally secreting one or more transmitters in order to exert propagation or modulation of network activity. In the last 2 decades our insight into the molecular regulation of presynaptic transmitter vesicle traffic and fusion has exponentionally grown due to the identification of specific functional interactions between presynaptic proteins involved in these processes. In addition, a plethora of extracellular and intracellular messengers regulate neurotransmitter release, occasionally leading to short- or long-term adaptations of the synapse to altered environmental signals. Important in this respect is the ability of various nerve terminals to diverge their output by differentiation in secretion of co-localized transmitters. This divergence in presynaptic signaling may converge in the postsynaptic target neuron or spread to neighbouring cells. In this review differential presynaptic signaling mechanisms will be related to their potential divergent roles in transmitter release.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium Signaling / physiology
  • Humans
  • Inositol Phosphates / physiology
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Models, Biological
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Nucleotides, Cyclic / physiology
  • Phosphorylation
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure
  • Secretory Vesicles / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / physiology
  • rab3A GTP-Binding Protein / physiology


  • Inositol Phosphates
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Nucleotides, Cyclic
  • rab3A GTP-Binding Protein