The synapsins (I, II, and III) comprise a family of peripheral membrane proteins that are involved in both regulation of neurotransmitter release and synaptogenesis. Synapsins are concentrated at presynaptic nerve terminals and are associated with the cytoplasmic surface of synaptic vesicles. Membrane-binding of synapsins involves interaction with both protein and lipid components of synaptic vesicles. Synapsin I binds rapidly and with high affinity to liposomes containing anionic lipids. The binding of bovine synapsin I to liposomes was studied using fluoresceinphosphatidyl-ethanolamine (FPE) to measure membrane electrostatic potential. Synapsin binding to liposomes caused a rapid increase in FPE fluorescence, indicating an increase in positive charge at the membrane surface. Synapsin I binding to monolayers resulted in a substantial increase in monolayer surface pressure. At higher initial surface pressures, the synapsin-induced increase in monolayer surface pressure is dependent on the presence of anionic lipids in the monolayer. Synapsin I also induced rapid aggregation of liposomes, but did not induce leakage of entrapped carboxyfluorescein, while other aggregation-inducing agents promoted extensive leakage. These results are in agreement with the presence of amphipathic stretches of amino acids in synapsin I that exhibit both electrostatic and hydrophobic interactions with membranes, and offer a molecular explanation for the high affinity binding of synapsin I to liposomes and for stabilization of membranes by synapsin I.

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Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications
Department of Biology

Cheetham, J, Murray, J. (Jill), Ruhkalova, M. (Marina), Cuccia, L. (Louis), McAloney, R. (Richard), Ingold, K.U. (Keith U.), & Johnston, L.J. (Linda J.). (2003). Interaction of synapsin I with membranes. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 309(4), 823–829. doi:10.1016/j.bbrc.2003.08.082