High- and low-mobility stages in the synaptic vesicle cycle

Biophys J. 2010 Jul 21;99(2):675-84. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.04.054.


Synaptic vesicles need to be mobile to reach their release sites during synaptic activity. We investigated vesicle mobility throughout the synaptic vesicle cycle using both conventional and subdiffraction-resolution stimulated emission depletion fluorescence microscopy. Vesicle tracking revealed that recently endocytosed synaptic vesicles are highly mobile for a substantial time period after endocytosis. They later undergo a maturation process and integrate into vesicle clusters where they exhibit little mobility. Despite the differences in mobility, both recently endocytosed and mature vesicles are exchanged between synapses. Electrical stimulation does not seem to affect the mobility of the two types of vesicles. After exocytosis, the vesicle material is mobile in the plasma membrane, although the movement appears to be somewhat limited. Increasing the proportion of fused vesicles (by stimulating exocytosis while simultaneously blocking endocytosis) leads to substantially higher mobility. We conclude that both high- and low-mobility states are characteristic of synaptic vesicle movement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Transport
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Electricity
  • Endocytosis
  • Membrane Fusion
  • Microscopy
  • Rats
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism*