Molecular organization of the presynaptic active zone

Cell Tissue Res. 2006 Nov;326(2):379-91. doi: 10.1007/s00441-006-0244-y. Epub 2006 Jul 25.


The exocytosis of neurotransmitter-filled synaptic vesicles is under tight temporal and spatial control in presynaptic nerve terminals. The fusion of synaptic vesicles is restricted to a specialized area of the presynaptic plasma membrane: the active zone. The protein network that constitutes the cytomatrix at the active zone (CAZ) is involved in the organization of docking and priming of synaptic vesicles and in mediating use-dependent changes in release during short-term and long-term synaptic plasticity. To date, five protein families whose members are highly enriched at active zones (Munc13s, RIMs, ELKS proteins, Piccolo and Bassoon, and the liprins-alpha), have been characterized. These multidomain proteins are instrumental for the diverse functions performed by the presynaptic active zone.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / genetics
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / metabolism*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / genetics
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*


  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neurotransmitter Agents