Synapsins, a family of neuron-specific phosphoproteins that play an important role in the regulation of synaptic vesicle trafficking and neurotransmitter release, were recently demonstrated to interact with the synaptic vesicle-associated small G protein Rab3A within nerve terminals (Giovedì, S., Vaccaro, P., Valtorta, F., Darchen, F., Greengard, P., Cesareni, G., and Benfenati, F. (2004) J. Biol. Chem. 279, 43760-43768). We have analyzed the functional consequences of this interaction on the biological activities of both proteins and on their subcellular distribution within nerve terminals. The presence of synapsin I stimulated GTP binding and GTPase activity of both purified and endogenous synaptic vesicle-associated Rab3A. Conversely, Rab3A inhibited synapsin I binding to F-actin, as well as synapsin-induced actin bundling and vesicle clustering. Moreover, the amount of Rab3A associated with synaptic vesicles was decreased in synapsin knockout mice, and the presence of synapsin I prevented RabGDI-induced Rab3A dissociation from synaptic vesicles. The results indicate that an interaction between synapsin I and Rab3A exists on synaptic vesicles that modulates the functional properties of both proteins. Given the well recognized importance of both synapsins and Rab3A in synaptic vesicles exocytosis, this interaction is likely to play a major role in the modulation of neurotransmitter release.
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