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Rod photoreceptor synapses use large, ribbon-type active zones for continuous synaptic transmission during light and dark. Since ribbons are physically connected to the active zones, we asked whether illumination-dependent changes of ribbons influence Cav1.4/RIM2 protein clusters at the active zone and whether these illumination-dependent effects at the active zone require the presence of the synaptic ribbon. We found that synaptic ribbon length and the length of presynaptic Cav1.4/RIM2 clusters are tightly correlated. Dark-adaptation did not change the number of ribbons and active zone puncta. However, mean ribbon length and length of presynaptic Cav1.4/RIM2 clusters increased significantly during dark-adaptation when tonic exocytosis is highest. In the present study, we identified by the analyses of synaptic ribbon-deficient RIBEYE knockout mice that synaptic ribbons are (1) needed to stabilize Cav1.4/RIM2 at rod photoreceptor active zones and (2) are required for the darkness-induced active zone enrichment of Cav1.4/RIM2. These data propose a role of the ribbon in active zone stabilization and suggest a homeostatic function of the ribbon in illumination-dependent active zone remodeling.


Ekta Dembla, Mayur Dembla, Stephan Maxeiner, Frank Schmitz. Synaptic ribbons foster active zone stability and illumination-dependent active zone enrichment of RIM2 and Cav1.4 in photoreceptor synapses. Scientific reports. 2020 Apr 06;10(1):5957

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PMID: 32249787

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