Synaptic transmission and plasticity are modulated by nonmuscle myosin II at the neuromuscular junction of Drosophila

J Neurophysiol. 2011 May;105(5):1966-76. doi: 10.1152/jn.00718.2010. Epub 2011 Feb 16.


The synaptic vesicle population in a nerve terminal is traditionally divided into subpopulations according to physiological criteria; the readily releasable pool (RRP), the recycling pool, and the reserve pool. It is recognized that the RRP subserves synaptic transmission evoked by low-frequency neural activity and that the recycling and reserve populations are called on to supply vesicles as neural activity increases. Here we investigated the contribution of nonmuscle myosin II (NMMII) to synaptic transmission with emphasis on the role a motor protein could play in the supply of vesicles. We used Drosophila genetics to manipulate NMMII and assessed synaptic transmission at the larval neuromuscular junction. We observed a positive correlation between synaptic strength at low-frequency stimulation and NMMII expression: reducing NMMII reduced the evoked response, while increasing NMMII increased the evoked response. Further, we found that NMMII contributed to the spontaneous release of vesicles differentially from evoked release, suggesting differential contribution to these two release mechanisms. By measuring synaptic responses under conditions of differing external calcium concentration in saline, we found that NMMII is important for normal synaptic transmission under high-frequency stimulation. This research identifies diverse functions for NMMII in synaptic transmission and suggests that this motor protein is an active contributor to the physiology of synaptic vesicle recruitment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Drosophila Proteins / physiology*
  • Drosophila melanogaster
  • Neuromuscular Junction / physiology*
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIB / physiology*
  • Synaptic Potentials / physiology
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*
  • Synaptic Vesicles / physiology


  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Nonmuscle Myosin Type IIB