Co-packaging of opposing neurotransmitters in individual synaptic vesicles in the central nervous system

Neuron. 2022 Apr 20;110(8):1371-1384.e7. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2022.01.007. Epub 2022 Feb 3.


Many mammalian neurons release multiple neurotransmitters to activate diverse classes of postsynaptic ionotropic receptors. Entopeduncular nucleus somatostatin (EP Sst+) projection neurons to the lateral habenula (LHb) release both glutamate and GABA, but it is unclear whether these are packaged into the same or segregated pools of synaptic vesicles. Here, we describe a method combining electrophysiology, spatially patterned optogenetics, and computational modeling designed to analyze the mechanism of glutamate/GABA co-release in mouse brain. We find that the properties of postsynaptic currents elicited in LHb neurons by optogenetically activating EP Sst+ terminals are only consistent with co-packaging of glutamate/GABA into individual vesicles. Furthermore, presynaptic neuromodulators that weaken EP Sst+ to LHb synapses maintain the co-packaging of glutamate/GABA while reducing vesicular release probability. Our approach is applicable to the study of multi-transmitter neurons throughout the brain, and our results constrain the mechanisms of neuromodulation and synaptic integration in LHb.

Keywords: GABA; basal ganglia; computational modeling; digital micromirror device; entopeduncular nucleus; glutamate; lateral habenula; neurotransmitter co-release.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Glutamic Acid
  • Habenula*
  • Mammals
  • Mice
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Synaptic Vesicles*
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid


  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Glutamic Acid
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid