Maintaining the active zone: Demand, supply and disposal of core active zone proteins

Neurosci Res. 2018 Feb;127:70-77. doi: 10.1016/j.neures.2017.09.014. Epub 2017 Dec 6.


Chemical synapses are sites of cell-cell contact specialized for transmission of signals between neurons and their respective targets. Neurotransmission occurs through the secretion of neurotransmitters at specialized presynaptic membrane regions known as Active Zones (AZs). AZ composition and function are now characterized quite well. Much less is known, however, on the manners by which these unique specializations are maintained for weeks, months, and presumably years. Here we focus on core AZ components that make up the Cytoskeleton associated with the AZ (CAZ) - their lifetimes, their supply and their disposal. We describe recent findings on CAZ molecule turnover rates, on the synthesis and trafficking of CAZ molecules to synapses and on the manners by which they are degraded. We highlight converging findings, point to discrepancies, in particular related to temporal and spatial constraints, and try to reconcile these, where possible, by offering more inclusive interpretations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Neurons / cytology*
  • Presynaptic Terminals / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Synaptic Vesicles / physiology*