Synapsins: from synapse to network hyperexcitability and epilepsy

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2011 Jun;22(4):408-15. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2011.07.005. Epub 2011 Jul 26.


The synapsin family in mammals consists of at least 10 isoforms encoded by three distinct genes and composed by a mosaic of conserved and variable domains. Synapsins, although not essential for the basic development and functioning of neuronal networks, are extremely important for the fine-tuning of SV cycling and neuronal plasticity. Single, double and triple synapsin knockout mice, with the notable exception of the synapsin III knockout mice, show a severe epileptic phenotype without gross alterations in brain morphology and connectivity. However, the molecular and physiological mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis of the epileptic phenotype observed in synapsin deficient mice are still far from being elucidated. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge about the role of synapsins in the regulation of network excitability and about the molecular mechanism leading to epileptic phenotype in mouse lines lacking one or more synapsin isoforms. The current evidences indicate that synapsins exert distinct roles in excitatory versus inhibitory synapses by differentially affecting crucial steps of presynaptic physiology and by this mean participate in the determination of network hyperexcitability.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Epilepsy / metabolism*
  • Epilepsy / physiopathology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Neuronal Plasticity
  • Synapses / metabolism*
  • Synapsins / metabolism*


  • Synapsins