Molecular machines governing exocytosis of synaptic vesicles

Nature. 2012 Oct 11;490(7419):201-7. doi: 10.1038/nature11320.


Calcium-dependent exocytosis of synaptic vesicles mediates the release of neurotransmitters. Important proteins in this process have been identified such as the SNAREs, synaptotagmins, complexins, Munc18 and Munc13. Structural and functional studies have yielded a wealth of information about the physiological role of these proteins. However, it has been surprisingly difficult to arrive at a unified picture of the molecular sequence of events from vesicle docking to calcium-triggered membrane fusion. Using mainly a biochemical and biophysical perspective, we briefly survey the molecular mechanisms in an attempt to functionally integrate the key proteins into the emerging picture of the neuronal fusion machine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Exocytosis / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Models, Biological
  • SNARE Proteins / chemistry
  • SNARE Proteins / metabolism
  • Synaptic Vesicles / physiology*


  • SNARE Proteins
  • Calcium