We have developed procedures for detecting synaptic vesicle-binding proteins by using glutaraldehyde-fixed or native vesicle fractions as absorbent matrices. Both adsorbents identify a prominent synaptic vesicle-binding protein of 36 kD in rat brain synaptosomes and mouse brain primary cultures. The binding of this protein to synaptic vesicles is competed by synaptophysin, a major integral membrane protein of synaptic vesicles, with half-maximal inhibition seen between 10(-8) and 10(-7) M synaptophysin. Because of its affinity for synaptophysin, we named the 36-kD synaptic vesicle-binding protein physophilin (psi nu sigma alpha, greek = bubble, vesicle; psi iota lambda os, greek = friend). Physophilin exhibits an isoelectric point of approximately 7.8, a Stokes radius of 6.6 nm, and an apparent sedimentation coefficient of 5.6 S, pointing to an oligomeric structure of this protein. It is present in synaptic plasma membranes prepared from synaptosomes but not in synaptic vesicles. In solubilization experiments, physophilin behaves as an integral membrane protein. Thus, a putative synaptic plasma membrane protein exhibits a specific interaction with one of the major membrane proteins of synaptic vesicles. This interaction may play a role in docking and/or fusion of synaptic vesicles to the presynaptic plasma membrane.

This content is only available as a PDF.