Conformation states of the neuronal porosome complex




Porosomes are the universal secretory machinery of the cell plasma membrane, where membrane-bound secretory vesicles transiently dock and fuse to expel intravesicular contents to the environment during cell secretion. In neurons, 12- to 17-nm cup-shaped lipoprotein structures possessing a central plug are present at the presynaptic membrane, where 40–50 nm in diameter synaptic vesicles transiently dock and fuse to release neurotransmitters. The neuronal porosome complex has been isolated, its composition determined and it has been both structurally and functionally reconstituted in artificial lipid membranes. Earlier studies using AFM (atomic force microscopy), EM (electron microscopy), electron density and 3D contour mapping provide the structure and assembly of proteins within the neuronal porosome complex at the nanoscale level. A set of eight protein units lining the neuronal porosome cup is present, each connected via spoke-like elements to a central plug, hypothesized for the rapid opening and closing of the structure to the outside. In the present study, ultrahigh-resolution imaging of the presynaptic membrane of isolated synaptosome preparations demonstrate, for the first time, the presence of neuronal porosomes in both their open and close conformations. The results suggests that the central plug is retracted into the porosome cup in its open conformation and pushed outward to seal the porosome opening, supporting the hypothesis that it operates as the opening–closing device of the complex.