Neurons in the CNS establish thousands of en passant synapses along their axons. Robust neurotransmission depends on the replenishment of synaptic components in a spatially precise manner. Using live-cell microscopy and single-molecule reconstitution assays, we find that the delivery of synaptic vesicle precursors (SVPs) to en passant synapses in hippocampal neurons is specified by an interplay between the kinesin-3 KIF1A motor and presynaptic microtubules. Presynaptic sites are hotspots of dynamic microtubules rich in GTP-tubulin. KIF1A binds more weakly to GTP-tubulin than GDP-tubulin and competes with end-binding (EB) proteins for binding to the microtubule plus end. A disease-causing mutation within KIF1A that reduces preferential binding to GDP- versus GTP-rich microtubules disrupts SVP delivery and reduces presynaptic release upon neuronal stimulation. Thus, the localized enrichment of dynamic microtubules along the axon specifies a localized unloading zone that ensures the accurate delivery of SVPs, controlling presynaptic strength in hippocampal neurons.
Keywords: KIF1A; axonal transport; dynein; kinesin; microtubule dynamics; synaptic strength; synaptic vesicles.
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