, Volume 333, Issue 2, pp 185-195,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 04 Jun 2008

Active zone proteins are dynamically associated with synaptic ribbons in rat pinealocytes


Synaptic ribbons (SRs) are prominent organelles that are abundant in the ribbon synapses of sensory neurons where they represent a specialization of the cytomatrix at the active zone (CAZ). SRs occur not only in neurons, but also in neuroendocrine pinealocytes where their function is still obscure. In this study, we report that pinealocyte SRs are associated with CAZ proteins such as Bassoon, Piccolo, CtBP1, Munc13–1, and the motorprotein KIF3A and, therefore, consist of a protein complex that resembles the ribbon complex of retinal and other sensory ribbon synapses. The pinealocyte ribbon complex is biochemically dynamic. Its protein composition changes in favor of Bassoon, Piccolo, and Munc13–1 at night and in favor of KIF3A during the day, whereas CtBP1 is equally present during the night and day. The diurnal dynamics of the ribbon complex persist under constant darkness and decrease after stimulus deprivation of the pineal gland by constant light. Our findings indicate that neuroendocrine pinealocytes possess a protein complex that resembles the CAZ of ribbon synapses in sensory organs and whose dynamics are under circadian regulation.

Susanne tom Dieck was supported by DFG grant BR 1643/4–1, and Anna Fejtová by the European Commission (SynScaff).