Nanoscale Organization of Vesicle Release at Central Synapses

Michael W. Gramlich, Vitaly A. Klyachko

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Presynaptic boutons support neurotransmitter release with nanoscale precision at sub-millisecond timescales. Studies over the past two decades have revealed a rich tapestry of molecular players governing synaptic vesicle fusion at highly specialized release sites in the active zone (AZ). However, the spatiotemporal organization of release at active synapses remains elusive, in part owing to the extremely small size of the AZ and the limited resolution of conventional approaches. Recent advances in fluorescence nanoscopy have revolutionized direct investigation of presynaptic release organization and dynamics. We discuss here recent nanoscopy-based studies of the molecular architecture, the spatial organization and dynamic regulation of release sites, and the mechanisms of release site replenishment. These findings have uncovered previously unknown levels of structural and functional organization at central synapses, with important implications for synaptic transmission and plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-437
Number of pages13
JournalTrends in Neurosciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2019


  • nanoscopy
  • neurotransmitter release
  • release sites
  • super-resolution microscopy
  • synaptic transmission
  • vesicle recycling


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