Synaptic transmission is mediated by the release of neurotransmitters, which involves exo-endocytotic cycling of synaptic vesicles. To maintain synaptic function, synaptic vesicles are refilled with thousands of neurotransmitter molecules within seconds after endocytosis, using the energy provided by an electrochemical proton gradient. However, it is unclear how transmitter molecules carrying different net charges can be efficiently sequestered while maintaining charge neutrality and osmotic balance. We used single-vesicle imaging to monitor pH and electrical gradients and directly showed different uptake mechanisms for glutamate and γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) operating in parallel. In contrast to glutamate, GABA was exchanged for protons, with no other ions participating in the transport cycle. Thus, only a few components are needed to guarantee reliable vesicle filling with different neurotransmitters.
Copyright © 2016, American Association for the Advancement of Science.