Synaptophysin controls synaptobrevin-II retrieval via a cryptic C-terminal interaction site

J Biol Chem. 2021 Jan-Jun:296:100266. doi: 10.1016/j.jbc.2021.100266. Epub 2021 Jan 8.


The accurate retrieval of synaptic vesicle (SV) proteins during endocytosis is essential for the maintenance of neurotransmission. Synaptophysin (Syp) and synaptobrevin-II (SybII) are the most abundant proteins on SVs. Neurons lacking Syp display defects in the activity-dependent retrieval of SybII and a general slowing of SV endocytosis. To determine the role of the cytoplasmic C terminus of Syp in the control of these two events, we performed molecular replacement studies in primary cultures of Syp knockout neurons using genetically encoded reporters of SV cargo trafficking at physiological temperatures. Under these conditions, we discovered, 1) no slowing in SV endocytosis in Syp knockout neurons, and 2) a continued defect in SybII retrieval in knockout neurons expressing a form of Syp lacking its C terminus. Sequential truncations of the Syp C-terminus revealed a cryptic interaction site for the SNARE motif of SybII that was concealed in the full-length form. This suggests that a conformational change within the Syp C terminus is key to permitting SybII binding and thus its accurate retrieval. Furthermore, this study reveals that the sole presynaptic role of Syp is the control of SybII retrieval, since no defect in SV endocytosis kinetics was observed at physiological temperatures.

Keywords: endocytosis; exocytosis; neuron; neurotransmitter release; synapse; synaptosome; vesicles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Endocytosis / genetics
  • Gene Knockout Techniques
  • Hippocampus / metabolism
  • Hippocampus / pathology
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / metabolism*
  • Primary Cell Culture
  • SNARE Proteins / genetics
  • Synaptic Transmission / genetics
  • Synaptic Vesicles / genetics*
  • Synaptophysin / chemistry
  • Synaptophysin / genetics*
  • Synaptosomes / chemistry
  • Synaptosomes / metabolism
  • Vesicle-Associated Membrane Protein 2 / genetics*


  • SNARE Proteins
  • Synaptophysin
  • Vesicle-Associated Membrane Protein 2