Tan C, de Nola G, Qiao C, Imig C, Born RT, Brose N, Kaeser PS
Active zones consist of protein scaffolds that are tightly attached to the presynaptic plasma membrane. They dock and prime synaptic vesicles, couple them to voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, and direct neurotransmitter release towards postsynaptic receptor domains. Simultaneous RIM+ELKS ablation disrupts these scaffolds, abolishes vesicle docking and removes active zone-targeted Munc13, but some vesicles remain releasable. To assess whether this enduring vesicular fusogenicity is mediated by non-active zone-anchored Munc13 or is Munc13-independent, we ablated Munc13-1 and Munc13-2 in addition to RIM+ELKS in mouse hippocampal neurons. The hextuple knockout synapses lacked docked vesicles, but other ultrastructural features were near-normal despite the strong genetic manipulation. Removing Munc13 in addition to RIM+ELKS impaired action potential-evoked vesicle fusion more strongly than RIM+ELKS knockout by further decreasing the releasable vesicle pool. Hence, Munc13 can support some fusogenicity without RIM and ELKS, and presynaptic recruitment of Munc13, even without active zone-anchoring, suffices to generate some fusion-competent vesicles.