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Syntaxins are a family of transmembrane proteins that participate in SNARE complexes to mediate membrane fusion events including exocytosis. Different syntaxins are thought to participate in exocytosis in different compartments of the nervous system such as the axon, the soma/dendrites or astrocytes. It is well known that exocytosis of synaptic vesicles at axonal presynaptic terminals involves syntaxin 1 but distributions of syntaxins on neuronal somal and dendritic, postsynaptic or astroglial plasma membranes are less well characterized. Here, we use pre-embedding immunogold labeling to compare the distribution of two plasma membrane-enriched syntaxins (1 and 4) in dissociated rat hippocampal cultures as well as in perfusion-fixed mouse brains. Comparison of Western blots of neuronal cultures, consisting of a mixture of hippocampal neurons and glia, with glial cultures, consisting of mostly astrocytes, shows that syntaxin 1 is enriched in neuronal cultures, whereas syntaxin 4 is enriched in glial cultures. Electron microscopy (EM)-immunogold labeling shows that syntaxin 1 is most abundant at the plasma membranes of axons and terminals, while syntaxin 4 is most abundant at astroglial plasma membranes. This differential distribution was evident even at close appositions of membranes at synapses, where syntaxin 1 was localized to the plasma membrane of the presynaptic terminal, including that at the active zone, while syntaxin 4 was localized to nearby peri-synaptic astroglial processes. These results show that syntaxin 4 is available to support exocytosis in astroglia. Published by Elsevier Ltd.


J-H Tao-Cheng, A Pham, Y Yang, C A Winters, P E Gallant, T S Reese. Syntaxin 4 is concentrated on plasma membrane of astrocytes. Neuroscience. 2015 Feb 12;286:264-71

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PMID: 25485479

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