Synaptic vesicles: Is kissing a matter of competence?

F. Valtorta, J. Meldolesi, R. Fesce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 'kiss-and-run' model of exocytosis and endocytosis predicts that synaptic vesicles can undergo fast and efficient recycling, after fusion with the plasmalemma, without intermixing of membranes. Evidence is mounting from several new experimental approaches that kiss-and-run occurs at synapses. Distinct vesicle pools, which initially were identified in morphological terms, are now being characterized in biochemical and functional terms. In addition, at least two functional recycling pathways, operating on different time scales (from milliseconds to tens of seconds), have been shown to coexist in the same synaptic system, and the two pathways appear to be differentially regulated. Taken together, these data suggest that kiss-and-run operates in parallel with the classical, coated-vesicle recycling. Here, we review recent evidence for kiss-and-run recycling and discuss whether it is a distinct process, dependent on the molecular organization of the fusing vesicle. We propose that vesicles undergo a process of 'competence maturation'. According to this view, the specific molecular make-up of the vesicles, their location and their interactions with nerve terminal proteins might determine not only the differential availability of the vesicles for fusion and neurotransmitter release but also the recycling path that they will follow.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)324-328
Number of pages5
JournalTrends in Cell Biology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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