Depletion of vesicles and fatigue of transmission at a vertebrate central synapse

Pat G. Model, Stephen M. Highstein, Michael V.L. Bennett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

98 Scopus citations


Synapses from Mauthner to giant fibers in the hatchetfish are chemically transmitting excitatory axo-axonic synapses located in the medulla. The synapses are 4-10 μm in diameter and easily identified for electron microscopy. Presynaptic vesicles are clustered near the contact regions and are round, clear and 40-60 nm in diameter. Stimulation of the Mauthner fiber at 10/sec for 10 min greatly reduces PSP amplitude and causes profound changes in presynaptic structures. Synaptic vesicles become few in number and there is a marked accumulation of irregular membranous structures. These changes are reversible. During the recovery period, the number of synaptic vesicles progressively increases to control values, and the number of irregular membranous structures declines. Further, stimulation during cooling induces depletion of vesicles together with a great increase in the surface area of the presynaptic membrane and in the number of coated vesicles. Internal irregular membranous structures are few. Our data provide evidence for the vesicular release of transmitter and are consistent with there being a mechanism of membrane recycling in which vesicle membrane fuses with the presynaptic membrane and is reclaimed from it by coated vesicles that then coalesce to form irregular membranous structures from which new synaptic vesicles are formed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)209-228
Number of pages20
JournalBrain research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Nov 14 1975

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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