Actin is a regulator of synaptic vesicle mobilization and exocytosis, but little is known about the mechanisms that regulate actin at presynaptic terminals. Genetic data on LIMK1, a negative regulator of actin-depolymerizing proteins of the ADF/cofilin family, suggest a role for ADF/cofilin in presynaptic function. However, synapse physiology is fully preserved upon genetic ablation of ADF in mice, and n-cofilin mutant mice display defects in postsynaptic plasticity, but not in presynaptic function. One explanation for this phenomenon is overlapping functions of ADF and n-cofilin in presynaptic physiology. Here, we tested this hypothesis and genetically removed ADF together with n-cofilin from synapses. In double mutants for ADF and n-cofilin, synaptic actin dynamics was impaired and more severely affected than in single mutants. The resulting cytoskeletal defects heavily affected the organization, mobilization, and exocytosis of synaptic vesicles in hippocampal CA3-CA1 synapses. Our data for the first time identify overlapping functions for ADF and n-cofilin in presynaptic physiology and vesicle trafficking. We conclude that n-cofilin is a limiting factor in postsynaptic plasticity, a function which cannot be substituted by ADF. On the presynaptic side, the presence of either ADF or n-cofilin is sufficient to control actin remodeling during vesicle release.
Keywords: CA3–CA1 synapse; hippocampus; neurotransmitter release; presynaptic physiology; synaptic plasticity.
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