An Engineered Metal Sensor Tunes the Kinetics of Synaptic Transmission.
The Ca(2+) sensor synaptotagmin-1 (syt-1) regulates neurotransmitter release by interacting with anionic phospholipids. Here we test the idea that the intrinsic kinetics of syt-membrane interactions determine, in part, the time course of synaptic transmission. To tune the kinetics of this interaction, we grafted structural elements from the slowest isoform, syt-7, onto the fastest isoform, syt-1, resulting in a chimera with intermediate kinetic properties. Moreover, the chimera coupled a physiologically irrelevant metal, Sr(2+), to membrane fusion in vitro. When substituted for syt-1 in mouse hippocampal neurons, the chimera slowed the kinetics of synaptic transmission. Neurons expressing the chimera also evinced rapid and efficient Sr(2+) triggered release, in contrast to the weak response of neurons expressing syt-1. These findings reveal presynaptic sensor-membrane interactions as a major factor regulating the speed of the release machinery. Finally, the chimera failed to clamp the elevated spontaneous fusion rate exhibited by syt-1 KO neurons, indicating that the metal binding loops of syt-1 regulate the two modes of release by distinct mechanisms. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: In calcium, synaptotagmin-1 triggers neurotransmitter release by interacting with membranes. Here, we demonstrate that intrinsic properties of this interaction control the time course of synaptic transmission. We engineered a "chimera" using synaptotagmin-1 and elements of a slower isoform, synaptotagmin-7. When expressed in neurons, the chimera slowed the rate of neurotransmitter release. Furthermore, unlike native synaptotagmin-1, the chimera was able to function robustly in the presence of strontium-a metal not present in cells. We exploited this ability to show that a key function of synaptotagmin-1 is to penetrate cell membranes. This work sheds light on fundamental mechanisms of neurotransmitter release.
Evans, CS; Ruhl, DA; Chapman, ER
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