The pathways of synaptic vesicle (SV) biogenesis and recycling are still poorly understood. We have studied the effects of Brefeldin A (BFA) on the distribution of several SV membrane proteins (synaptophysin, synaptotagmin, synaptobrevin, p29, SV2 and rab3A) and on endosomal markers to investigate the relationship between SVs and the membranes with which they interact in cultured hippocampal neurons developing in isolation. In these neurons, SV proteins are detected as punctate immunoreactivity that is concentrated in axons but is also present in perikarya and dendrites. In the same neurons, the transferrin receptor, a well established marker of early endosomes, is selectively concentrated in perikarya and dendrites. In the perikaryal-dendritic region, BFA induced a dramatic tubulation of transferrin receptors as well as a cotubulation of the bulk of synaptophysin. Synaptotagmin, synaptobrevin, p29 and SV2 immunoreactivities retained a primarily punctate distribution. No tubulation of rab3A was observed. In axons, BFA did not produce any obvious alteration of the distribution of SV proteins, nor of peroxidase- or Lucifer yellow-labeled early endosomes. The selective effect of BFA on dendritic membranes suggests the existence of functional differences between the endocytic systems in dendrites and axons. Cotubulation of transferrin receptors and synaptophysin in the perikaryal-dendritic region is consistent with a functional interconnection between the traffic of SV proteins and early endosomes. The heterogeneous effects of BFA on SV proteins in this cell region indicates that SV proteins are differentially sorted upon exit from the TGN and are coassembled into SVs at the cell periphery.

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