The active zone is a specialized region of the presynaptic plasma membrane where synaptic vesicles dock and fuse. In this study, we have investigated the cellular mechanism underlying the transport and recruitment of the active zone protein Piccolo into nascent synapses. Our results show that Piccolo is transported to nascent synapses on an ∼80 nm dense core granulated vesicle together with other constituents of the active zone, including Bassoon, Syntaxin, SNAP-25, and N-cadherin, as well as chromogranin B. Components of synaptic vesicles, such as VAMP 2/synaptobrevin II, synaptophysin, synaptotagmin, or proteins of the perisynaptic plasma membrane such as GABA transporter 1 (GAT1), were not present. These studies demonstrate that the presynaptic active zone is formed in part by the fusion of an active zone precursor vesicle with the presynaptic plasma membrane.
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