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Interactions of Presynaptic Ca2+ Channels and Snare Proteins in Neurotransmitter Release



ABSTRACT: N- and P/Q-type Ca2+ channels are localized in high density in presynaptic nerve terminals and are crucial elements in neuronal excitation-secretion coupling. In addition to mediating Ca2+ entry to initiate transmitter release, they are thought to interact directly with proteins of the synaptic vesicle docking/fusion machinery. These Ca2+ channels can be purified from brain as a complex with SNARE proteins, which are involved in exocytosis. In addition, N-type and P/Q-type Ca2+ channels are colocalized with syntaxin in high-density clusters in nerve terminals. The synaptic protein interaction (synprint) sites in the intracellular loop II-III (LII-III) of both α1B and α1A subunits of N-type and P/Q-type Ca2+ channels bind to syntaxin, SNAP-25, and synaptotagmin.Ca2+ has a biphasic effect on the interactions of N-type Ca2+ channels with SNARE complexes, stimulating optimal binding in the range of 10–30 μM. PKC or CaM KII phosphorylation of the N-type synprint peptide inhibits interactions with SNARE complexes containing syntaxin and SNAP-25. Introduction of the synprint peptides into presynaptic superior cervical ganglion neurons reversibly inhibits EPSPs from synchronous transmitter release by 42%. At physiological Ca2+ concentrations, synprint peptides significantly reduce transmitter release in injected frog neuromuscular junctions in cell culture, consistent with detachment of 70% of the docked vesicles from Ca2+ channels as analyzed by a theoretical model. Together, these studies suggest that presynaptic Ca2+ channels not only provide the Ca2+ signal required by the exocytotic mechinery, but also contain structural elements that are integral to vesicle docking, priming, and fusion processes.