Role of the conserved WHXL motif in the C terminus of synaptotagmin in synaptic vesicle docking. Academic Article uri icon


  • Synaptotagmin (Syt) I, an abundant synaptic vesicle protein, consists of one transmembrane region, two C2 domains, and a short C terminus. This protein is essential for both synaptic vesicle exocytosis and endocytosis via its C2 domains. Although the short C terminus is highly conserved among the Syt family and across species, little is known about the exact role of the conserved C terminus of Syt I. In this paper, we report a function of the Syt I C terminus in synaptic vesicle docking at the active zones. Presynaptic injection of a peptide corresponding to the C-terminal 21 amino acids of Syt I (named Syt-C) into the squid giant synapse blocked synaptic transmission without affecting the presynaptic action potential or the presynaptic Ca(2+) currents. The same procedure repeated with a mutant C-terminal peptide (Syt-CM) had no effect on synaptic transmission. Repetitive presynaptic stimulation with Syt-C produced a rapid decrease in the amplitude of the postsynaptic potentials as the synaptic block progressed, indicating that the peptide interferes with the docking step rather than the fusion step of synaptic vesicles. Electron microscopy of the synapses injected with the Syt-C peptide showed a marked decrease in the number of docked synaptic vesicles at the active zones, as compared with controls. These results indicate that Syt I is a multifunctional protein that is involved in at least three steps of synaptic vesicle cycle: docking, fusion, and reuptake of synaptic vesicles.

publication date

  • December 19, 2000