Synaptic transmission deficits in Caenorhabditis elegans synaptobrevin mutants

Michael L. Nonet, Owais Saifee, Hongjuan Zhao, James B. Rand, Liping Wei

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215 Scopus citations


Synaptobrevins are vesicle-associated proteins implicated in neurotransmitter release by both biochemical studies and perturbation experiments that use botulinum toxins. To test these models in vivo, we have isolated and characterized the first synaptobrevin mutants in metazoans and show that neurotransmission is severely disrupted in mutant animals. Mutants lacking snb-1 die just after completing embryogenesis. The dying animals retain some capability for movement, although they are extremely uncoordinated and incapable of feeding. We also have isolated and characterized several hypomorphic snb-1 mutants. Although fully viable, these mutants exhibit a variety of behavioral abnormalities that are consistent with a general defect in the efficacy of synaptic transmission. The viable mutants are resistant to the acetylcholinesterase inhibitor aldicarb, indicating that cholinergic transmission is impaired. Extracellular recordings from pharyngeal muscle also demonstrate severe defects in synaptic transmission in the mutants. The molecular lesions in the hypomorphic alleles reside on the hydrophobic face of a proposed amphipathic-helical region implicated biochemically in interacting with the t-SNAREs syntaxin and SNAP- 25. Finally, we demonstrate that double mutants lacking both the v-SNAREs synaptotagmin and snb-1 are phenotypically similar to snb-1 mutants and less severe than syntaxin mutants. Our work demonstrates that synaptobrevin is essential for viability and is required for functional synaptic transmission. However, our analysis also suggests that transmitter release is not completely eliminated by removal of either one or both v-SNAREs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-80
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1998


  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Exocytosis
  • Mutants
  • Synaptic vesicle protein
  • Synaptobrevin
  • VAMP
  • v-SNARE


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