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Title: Shortened tethering filaments stabilize presynaptic vesicles in support of elevated release probability during LTP in rat hippocampus

Long-term potentiation (LTP) is a cellular mechanism of learning and memory that results in a sustained increase in the probability of vesicular release of neurotransmitter. However, previous work in hippocampal area CA1 of the adult rat revealed that the total number of vesicles per synapse decreases following LTP, seemingly inconsistent with the elevated release probability. Here, electron-microscopic tomography (EMT) was used to assess whether changes in vesicle density or structure of vesicle tethering filaments at the active zone might explain the enhanced release probability following LTP. The spatial relationship of vesicles to the active zone varies with functional status. Tightly docked vesicles contact the presynaptic membrane, have partially formed SNARE complexes, and are primed for release of neurotransmitter upon the next action potential. Loosely docked vesicles are located within 8 nm of the presynaptic membrane where SNARE complexes begin to form. Nondocked vesicles comprise recycling and reserve pools. Vesicles are tethered to the active zone via filaments composed of molecules engaged in docking and release processes. The density of tightly docked vesicles was increased 2 h following LTP compared to control stimulation, whereas the densities of loosely docked or nondocked vesicles congregating within 45 nm above the active zones were more » unchanged. The tethering filaments on all vesicles were shorter and their attachment sites shifted closer to the active zone. These findings suggest that tethering filaments stabilize more vesicles in the primed state. Such changes would facilitate the long-lasting increase in release probability following LTP.

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Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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Article No. e2018653118
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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National Science Foundation
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