Activity-Dependence of Synaptic Vesicle Dynamics

Luca A. Forte, Michael Gramlich, Vitaly A. Klyachko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The proper function of synapses relies on efficient recycling of synaptic vesicles. The small size of synaptic boutons has hampered efforts to define the dynamical states of vesicles during recycling. Moreover, whether vesicle motion during recycling is regulated by neural activity remains largely unknown. We combined nanoscale-resolution tracking of individual synaptic vesicles in cultured hippocampal neurons from rats of both sexes with advanced motion analyses to demonstrate that the majority of recently endocytosed vesicles undergo sequences of transient dynamical states including epochs of directed, diffusional, and stalled motion. We observed that vesicle motion is modulated in an activity-dependent manner, with dynamical changes apparent in ∼20% of observed boutons. Within this subpopulation of boutons, 35% of observed vesicles exhibited acceleration and 65% exhibited deceleration, accompanied by corresponding changes in directed motion. Individual vesicles observed in the remaining ∼80% of boutons did not exhibit apparent dynamical changes in response to stimulation. More quantitative transient motion analyses revealed that the overall reduction of vesicle mobility, and specifically of the directed motion component, is the predominant activity-evoked change across the entire bouton population. Activity-dependent modulation of vesicle mobility may represent an important mechanism controlling vesicle availability and neurotransmitter release.SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENTMechanisms governing synaptic vesicle dynamics during recycling remain poorly understood. Using nanoscale resolution tracking of individual synaptic vesicles in hippocampal synapses and advanced motion analysis tools we demonstrate that synaptic vesicles undergo complex sets of dynamical states that include epochs of directed, diffusive, and stalled motion. Most importantly, our analyses revealed that vesicle motion is modulated in an activity-dependent manner apparent as the reduction in overall vesicle mobility in response to stimulation. These results define the vesicle dynamical states during recycling and reveal their activity-dependent modulation. Our study thus provides fundamental new insights into the principles governing synaptic function.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10597-10610
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number44
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017


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