Synapsins are synaptic vesicle-associated phosphoproteins implicated in the regulation of neurotransmitter release. Synapsin I is the major binding protein for the SH3 domain of the kinase c-Src in synaptic vesicles. Its binding leads to stimulation of synaptic vesicle-associated c-Src activity. We investigated the mechanism and role of Src activation by synapsins on synaptic vesicles. We found that synapsin is tyrosine phosphorylated by c-Src in vitro and on intact synaptic vesicles independently of its phosphorylation state on serine. Mass spectrometry revealed a single major phosphorylation site at Tyr301, which is highly conserved in all synapsin isoforms and orthologues. Synapsin tyrosine phosphorylation triggered its binding to the SH2 domains of Src or Fyn. However, synapsin selectively activated and was phosphorylated by Src, consistent with the specific enrichment of c-Src in synaptic vesicles over Fyn or n-Src. The activity of Src on synaptic vesicles was controlled by the amount of vesicle-associated synapsin, which is in turn dependent on synapsin serine phosphorylation. Synaptic vesicles depleted of synapsin in vitro or derived from synapsin null mice exhibited greatly reduced Src activity and tyrosine phosphorylation of other synaptic vesicle proteins. Disruption of the Src-synapsin interaction by internalization of either the Src SH3 or SH2 domains into synaptosomes decreased synapsin tyrosine phosphorylation and concomitantly increased neurotransmitter release in response to Ca2+-ionophores. We conclude that synapsin is an endogenous substrate and activator of synaptic vesicle-associated c-Src and that regulation of Src activity on synaptic vesicles participates in the regulation of neurotransmitter release by synapsin.
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