Immunogold labeling of synaptic vesicle proteins in developing hippocampal neurons

Published on 2020-01-21T05:13:12Z (GMT) by
Abstract Synaptic vesicles (SV) contain high concentrations of specific proteins. How these proteins are transported from soma to synapses, and how they become concentrated at SV clusters at presynaptic terminals were examined by immunogold electron microscopy in dissociated rat hippocampal neurons at 3–6 days in culture, a developmental stage when axonal transport of SV proteins is robust. In neuronal somas, labels for the SV integral membrane proteins (synaptophysin, SV2, VAMP/synaptobrevin, and synaptotagmin) were localized at Golgi complexes and other membranous structures that were dispersed in the cytoplasm as individual vesicle/vacuoles. These vesicles/vacuoles became aggregated in axons, with the size of aggregates ranging from 0.2 to 2 μm in length. Pleomorphic vesicle/vacuoles within the aggregate were typically larger (50–300 nm) than SVs, which were uniform in size at ~ 40 nm. These pleomorphic vesicles/vacuoles are probably transport cargos carrying SV integral membrane proteins from the soma, and then are preferentially sorted into axons at early developmental stages. Serial thin sections of young axons indicated that many labeled aggregates were not synaptic, and in fact, some of these axons were without dendritic contacts. In contrast, labels for two SV-associated proteins, synapsin I and α-synuclein, were not localized at the Golgi complexes or associated with membranous structures in the soma, but were dispersed in the cytoplasm. However, these SV-associated proteins became highly concentrated on clusters of SV-like vesicles in axons, and such clusters were already distinctive in axons as early as 3 days in culture. These clusters consisted of ~ 4–30 vesicles in single thin sections, and the vesicles were of a uniform size (~ 40 nm). Serial sectioning analysis showed that these clusters could be part of nascent synapses or exist in axons without any dendritic contact. Importantly, the vesicles were intensely labeled for SV integral membrane proteins as well as SV-associated proteins. Thus, these EM observations reveal that the two groups of proteins, SV integral membrane and SV-associated, proceed through different routes of biosynthesis and axon transport, and are only sorted into the same final compartment, SV clusters, when they are in the axons.

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Tao-Cheng, Jung-Hwa (2020): Immunogold labeling of synaptic vesicle proteins in developing hippocampal neurons. figshare. Collection.