Cell and Tissue Research

, Volume 326, Issue 2, pp 379–391 | Cite as

Molecular organization of the presynaptic active zone

  • Susanne SchochEmail author
  • Eckart D. Gundelfinger


The exocytosis of neurotransmitter-filled synaptic vesicles is under tight temporal and spatial control in presynaptic nerve terminals. The fusion of synaptic vesicles is restricted to a specialized area of the presynaptic plasma membrane: the active zone. The protein network that constitutes the cytomatrix at the active zone (CAZ) is involved in the organization of docking and priming of synaptic vesicles and in mediating use-dependent changes in release during short-term and long-term synaptic plasticity. To date, five protein families whose members are highly enriched at active zones (Munc13s, RIMs, ELKS proteins, Piccolo and Bassoon, and the liprins-α), have been characterized. These multidomain proteins are instrumental for the diverse functions performed by the presynaptic active zone.


Active zone Synapse Cytomatrix Multidomain proteins 



We thank the members of our laboratories and T.C. Südhof for discussions and support.


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© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Emmy Noether Research Group, Institute of Neuropathology and Department of EpileptologyUniversity of Bonn Medical CenterBonnGermany
  2. 2.Department of Neurochemistry and Molecular BiologyLeibniz Institute for NeurobiologyMagdeburgGermany

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