Relative properties and localizations of synaptic vesicle protein isoforms: The case of the synaptophysins

E. M. Fykse, K. Takei, C. Walch-Solimena, M. Geppert, R. Jahn, P. De Camilli, T. C. Sudhof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

119 Citations (Scopus)


Synaptophysins are abundant synaptic vesicle proteins present in two forms: synaptophysin, also referred to as synaptophysin I (abbreviated syp I), and synaptoporin, also referred to as synaptophysin II (abbreviated syp II). In the present study, the properties and localizations of syp I and syp II were investigated to shed light on their relative functions. Our results reveal that syp II, similar to syp I, is an abundant, N-glycosylated membrane protein that is part of a heteromultimeric complex in synaptic vesicle membranes. Cross-linking studies indicate that syp II is linked to a low- molecular-weight protein in this complex as has been observed before for syp I. Furthermore, after transfection into CHO cells, syp II, similar to syp I, is targeted to the receptor-mediated endocytosis pathway. Immunocytochemistry of rat brain sections reveals that syp II expression is highly heterogeneous, with high concentrations of syp II only in selected neuronal populations, whereas syp I is more homogeneously expressed in most nerve terminals. In general, nerve terminals expressing syp II also express syp I. In addition to high levels of syp II observed in selected neurons, a rostrocaudal gradient of syp II expression was observed in the cerebellar cortex. Immunoelectron microscopy confirmed that syp II is localized to synaptic vesicles. Immunoprecipitations of synaptic vesicles from rat brain with antibodies to syp I demonstrated that syp II is colocalized with syp I on the same vesicles. However, after detergent solubilization, no coimmunoprecipitations of the two proteins were observed, suggesting that they are not complexed with each other although they are on the same vesicles. Together our results demonstrate that syp I and syp II have similar properties and are present on the same synaptic vesicles but do not coassemble. The presence of the two proteins in the same nerve terminal suggests that they have similar but nonidentical functions and that the relative abundance of the two proteins may contribute to the functional heterogeneity of nerve terminals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4997-5007
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1993
Externally publishedYes


  • cerebellum
  • neurotransmission
  • receptor-mediated endocytosis
  • synapse
  • synaptic vesicles
  • synaptophysin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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