How to make a synaptic ribbon: RIBEYE deletion abolishes ribbons in retinal synapses and disrupts neurotransmitter release

EMBO J. 2016 May 17;35(10):1098-114. doi: 10.15252/embj.201592701. Epub 2016 Feb 29.


Synaptic ribbons are large proteinaceous scaffolds at the active zone of ribbon synapses that are specialized for rapid sustained synaptic vesicles exocytosis. A single ribbon-specific protein is known, RIBEYE, suggesting that ribbons may be constructed from RIBEYE protein. RIBEYE knockdown in zebrafish, however, only reduced but did not eliminate ribbons, indicating a more ancillary role. Here, we show in mice that full deletion of RIBEYE abolishes all presynaptic ribbons in retina synapses. Using paired recordings in acute retina slices, we demonstrate that deletion of RIBEYE severely impaired fast and sustained neurotransmitter release at bipolar neuron/AII amacrine cell synapses and rendered spontaneous miniature release sensitive to the slow Ca(2+)-buffer EGTA, suggesting that synaptic ribbons mediate nano-domain coupling of Ca(2+) channels to synaptic vesicle exocytosis. Our results show that RIBEYE is essential for synaptic ribbons as such, and may organize presynaptic nano-domains that position release-ready synaptic vesicles adjacent to Ca(2+) channels.

Keywords: CtBP2; GCamP3; RIBEYE knockout; photoreceptors; tonic release.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases
  • Animals
  • Calcium / physiology
  • Calcium Channels / physiology
  • Co-Repressor Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / physiology*
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / physiology*
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission*


  • Calcium Channels
  • Co-Repressor Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Alcohol Oxidoreductases
  • Ctbp2 protein, mouse
  • Calcium