Evaluation of the evidence for ion channels in synaptic vesicles

Mol Membr Biol. 1995 Apr-Jun;12(2):165-71. doi: 10.3109/09687689509027504.


Synaptic vesicles (SVs) have been the focus of much research for many years, however only recently have ion channels from SV membranes been reported. There is now convincing evidence that SVs contain ion channels. This conclusion is based on direct experimental results from several different laboratories using the patch clamp or planar lipid bilayer technique on SVs and neurosecretory granules (NSG). Some limitations of patch clamping and of fusing synamptic vesicles to a bilayer are described and the advantages of the nystatin/ergosterol fusion method are presented. Six different channels appear to exist in SV (or NSG) membranes. Two large channels (250 and 154 pS) have been observed in SVs isolated from mammalian brain, two channels (180 and 13 pS) from Torpedo electric organ, and two channels (130 and 30-40 pS) from NSG. The three larger channels from each set (250, 180 and 130 pS7) are novel in that they have a subconductance state. The 154 pS channel has been identified as synaptophysin but the identity and function of the other channels is unknown. Although some of the channels are gated by voltage, only the 130 pS channel is modulated by Ca2+. Further knowledge of what regulates these channels is mandatory if we are to determine the physiological significance of these channels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Humans
  • Ion Channels*
  • Rats
  • Synaptic Vesicles / metabolism
  • Synaptic Vesicles / ultrastructure*


  • Ion Channels