The image is an artistic rework of a light microscopy image showing the inside of a nerve cell ending. Cyan, red, and yellow circles illustrate vesicles containing transporters for glutamate, zinc or both, respectively. The centers of the red contour lines indicate where the messengers exit the nerve cell. © Dr. Radhika Patnala, Sci-Illustrate

Why some nerve cells have more to say

Nerve cells communicate via chemical neurotransmitters stored in small containers, termed synaptic vesicles. Some of these cells are more ‘articulate’ than others as they can send more than one type of messenger. By which mechanism such multilingual communication takes place, however, remained a puzzle. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Multidisciplinary Sciences in Göttingen (Germany) have now determined the brain’s capacity to release distinct messengers at the same time. They showed that about a third of all vesicles in rodent brains can store and release distinct messengers.

Link to the press release of the MPI