Thomas Sudhof, Postdoctoral Faculty Sponsor
Spontaneous neurotransmitter release is a fundamental property of synapses in which neurotransmitter filled vesicles release their content independent of presynaptic action potentials (APs). Despite their seemingly random nature, these spontaneous fusion events can be regulated by Ca2+ signaling pathways. Here, we probed the mechanisms that maintain Ca2+ sensitivity of spontaneous release events in synapses formed between hippocampal neurons cultured from rats of both sexes. In this setting, we examined the potential role of vesicle-associated membrane protein 4 (VAMP4), a vesicular soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) protein in spontaneous neurotransmission. Our results show that VAMP4 is required for Ca2+-dependent spontaneous excitatory neurotransmission, with a limited role in spontaneous inhibitory neurotransmission. Key residues in VAMP4 that regulate its retrieval as well as functional clathrin-mediated vesicle trafficking were essential for the maintenance of VAMP4-mediated spontaneous release. Moreover, high-frequency stimulation (HFS) that typically triggers asynchronous release and retrieval of VAMP4 from the plasma membrane also augmentsCa2+-sensitive spontaneous release for up to 30 min in a VAMP4-dependent manner. This VAMP4-mediated link between asynchronous and spontaneous excitatory neurotransmission might serve as a presynaptic substrate for synaptic plasticity coupling distinct forms of release.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Spontaneous neurotransmitter release that occurs independent of presynaptic action potentials (APs) shows significant sensitivity to intracellular Ca2+ levels. In this study, we identify the vesicular soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptor (SNARE) molecule vesicle-associated membrane protein 4 (VAMP4) as a key component of the machinery that maintains these Ca2+-sensitive fraction of spontaneous release events. Following brief intense activity, VAMP4-dependent synaptic vesicle retrieval supports a pool of vesicles that fuse spontaneously in the long term. We propose that this vesicle trafficking pathway acts to shape spontaneous release and associated signaling based on previous activity history of synapses.
View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2386-19.2020
View details for Web of Science ID 000548287600005
View details for PubMedID 32532887
View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7343330