The molecular machinery of synaptic vesicle exocytosis
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At the synapse, neurotransmitters are released via Ca2+-triggered exocytotic fusion of synaptic vesicles with the presynaptic plasma membrane. Synaptic vesicle exocytosis seems to share many basic principles and homologous proteins with other membrane fusion events. Conserved components of the general fusion machinery that participate in synaptic vesicle exocytosis include soluble N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor attachment protein receptors (SNAREs), ATPase N-ethylmaleimide-sensitive factor, Munc18/nSec1, Rab3 GTPase, and the exocyst proteins. In addition, synaptic vesicle exocytosis uses a set of unique components, such as synaptotagmin, complexin, Munc13, and RIM, to meet the special needs of fast Ca2+-triggered neurotransmitter release. This review summarizes present knowledge about the molecular mechanisms by which these components mediate and/or regulate synaptic vesicle exocytosis.
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