Optical detection of three modes of endocytosis at hippocampal synapses

  1. Natali L Chanaday
  2. Ege T Kavalali  Is a corresponding author
  1. University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, United States


Coupling of synaptic vesicle fusion and retrieval constitutes a core mechanism ensuring maintenance of presynaptic function. Recent studies using fast-freeze electron microscopy and capacitance measurements reported an ultrafast mode of endocytosis operating at physiological temperatures. Here, using rat hippocampal neurons, we optically monitored single synaptic vesicle endocytosis with high time resolution using the vesicular glutamate transporter, synaptophysin and the V0a1 subunit of the vacuolar ATPase as probes. In this setting, we could distinguish three components of retrieval operating at ultrafast (~150-250 ms, ~20% of events), fast (~5-12s, ~40% of events) and ultraslow speeds (>20s, ~40% of events). While increasing Ca2+ slowed the fast events, increasing temperature accelerated their time course. In contrast, the kinetics of ultrafast events were only mildly affected by these manipulations. These results suggest that synaptic vesicle proteins can be retrieved with ultrafast kinetics, although a majority of evoked fusion events are coupled to slower retrieval mechanisms.

Data availability

All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files as histograms or box plots.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Natali L Chanaday

    Department of Neuroscience, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Ege T Kavalali

    Department of Neuroscience, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, United States
    For correspondence
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
    ORCID icon "This ORCID iD identifies the author of this article:" 0000-0003-1777-227X


National Institute of Mental Health (MH066198)

  • Ege T Kavalali

The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.


Animal experimentation: All animal protocols were approved by the Institutional Care and Use Committee at UT Southwestern Medical Center. The work presented in this study is covered by the Animal Protocol Numbers APN 2016-101416.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Axel T Brunger, Stanford University Medical Center, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: February 21, 2018
  2. Accepted: April 20, 2018
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: April 23, 2018 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: May 18, 2018 (version 2)


© 2018, Chanaday & Kavalali

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.


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  1. Natali L Chanaday
  2. Ege T Kavalali
Optical detection of three modes of endocytosis at hippocampal synapses
eLife 7:e36097.

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