Classical studies in the field of synaptic transmission have assumed that neurotransmitter release occurs from a biochemically homogeneous population of synaptic vesicles, but considerable work from many experimental systems has shown that synaptic vesicles belong to pools that differ in their response to stimulation. These observations have given rise to two competing hypotheses, one that the pools are biochemically the same, with differences in behavior strictly stochastic, or extrinsic, reflecting differential association with the cytoskeleton or prior history rather than any intrinsic differences in composition. Alternatively, differences in molecular composition underlie the behavior of different synaptic vesicle pools, and recent work has suggested that the pools may retain their identity after recycling. Although controversial, we have recently shown that different synaptic vesicle proteins respond differently to stimulation, providing some of the first evidence that synaptic vesicle pools differ in composition. However, these experiments involved optical imaging of individual reporter constructs, and understanding how membrane protein composition determines the properties of synaptic vesicles requires a more systematic approach. We will thus label specific synaptic vesicle pools with magnetic nanoparticles strictly on the basis of their response to activity, and determine their composition by quantitative proteomic analysis:
Aim 1 : Optimize synaptic vesicle recovery from highly purified synaptoneurosomes. Standard procedures fail to recover synaptic vesicles associated with the plasma membrane, so we will optimize synaptic vesicle recovery from synaptoneurosomes using a combination of physical and chemical approaches.
Aim 2 : Optimize isolation of synaptic vesicles labeled with magnetic nanoparticles during stimulation. We will synthesize small magnetic nanoparticles, and optimize the labeling of different synaptic vesicle pools by different patterns of stimulation.
Aim 3 : Determine the composition of recycling and resting synaptic vesicle pools by quantitative proteomics using isobaric tag for relative and absolute quantitation (iTRAQ) or stable isotope labeling in mammals (SILAM). Identifying the molecular composition of different synaptic vesicle pools will provide a foundation for future work to explore the functin of the identified components in transmitter release, synapse development and plasticity.

Public Health Relevance

In the past, it has been assumed that all synaptic vesicles within a neuron contain the same proteins, but synaptic vesicles belong to distinct pools with very different functional properties. In recent work, we have used optical imaging to show that individual proteins differ in their abundance on different pools. To characterize the composition of these pools more comprehensively and quantitatively, we will now isolate the pools biochemically, and compare their composition by mass spectrometry.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Synapses, Cytoskeleton and Trafficking Study Section (SYN)
Program Officer
Asanuma, Chiiko
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of California San Francisco
Schools of Medicine
San Francisco
United States
Zip Code