Extrasynaptic vesicle recycling in mature hippocampal neurons

Nat Commun. 2011 Nov 8;2:531. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1534.


Fast neuronal signalling relies on highly regulated vesicle fusion and recycling at specialized presynaptic terminals. Recently, examples of non-classical neurotransmission have also been reported, where fusion of vesicles can occur at sites remote from conventional synapses. This has potentially broad biological implications, but the underlying mechanisms are not well established. Here we show that a complete vesicle recycling pathway can occur at discrete axonal sites in mature hippocampal neurons and that extrasynaptic fusion is a robust feature of native tissue. We demonstrate that laterally mobile vesicle clusters trafficking between synaptic terminals become transiently stabilized by evoked action potentials and undergo complete but delayed Ca(2+)-dependent fusion along axons. This fusion is associated with dynamic actin accumulation and, subsequently, vesicles can be locally recycled, re-acidified and re-used. Immunofluorescence and ultrastructural work demonstrates that extrasynaptic fusion sites can have apposed postsynaptic specializations, suggesting that mobile vesicle recycling may underlie highly dynamic neuron-neuron communication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Electrophysiology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Hippocampus / cytology*
  • Hippocampus / ultrastructure
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Presynaptic Terminals / metabolism
  • Presynaptic Terminals / ultrastructure
  • Rats
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism
  • Synaptic Vesicles / ultrastructure