NERVE terminals are unique among cellular secretory systems in that they can sustain vesicular release at a high rate. Although little is known about the mechanisms that account for the distinctive features of neurotransmitter release, it can be assumed that neuron-specific proteins are involved. One such protein family, the synapsins, are believed to regulate neurotransmitter release through phosphorylation-dependent interactions with synaptic vesicles and cytoskeletal elements1. Here we show that clusters of vesicles at synaptic release sites are composed of two pools, a distal pool containing synapsin and a proximal pool devoid of synapsin and located adjacent to the presynaptic membrane. Pre-synaptic injection of synapsin antibodies resulted in the loss of the distal pool, without any apparent effect on the proximal pool. Depletion of this distal pool was associated with a marked depression of neurotransmitter release evoked by high-frequency (18-20 Hz) but not by low-frequency (0.2 Hz) stimulation. Thus the availability of the synapsin-associated pool of vesicles seems to be required to sustain release of neurotransmitter in response to high-frequency bursts of impulses.
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