A SNARE complex containing syntaxin 3 is present in ribbon synapses of the retina

Catherine W. Morgans, Johann H. Brandstätter, Joseph Kellerman, Heinrich Betz, Heinz Wässle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

110 Scopus citations


In contrast to conventional synapses, which release neurotransmitter transiently, ribbon synapses formed by photoreceptors and bipolar cells of the retina release neurotransmitter continuously and modulate the rate in response to light. Both modes of release are mediated by synaptic vesicles but probably differ in the regulation of docking and fusion of synaptic vesicles with the plasma membrane. We have found that syntaxin 1, an essential component of the core fusion complex in conventional synapses, is absent from ribbon synapses of the retina, raising the possibility that these synapses contain a different type of syntaxin or syntaxin-like protein. By immunoprecipitating syntaxin 1-depleted retina and brain extracts with a SNAP-25 antibody and microsequencing the precipitated proteins, syntaxin 3 was detected in retina complexed with SNAP-25, synaptobrevin, and complexin. Using an anti-syntaxin 3 antiserum, syntaxin 3 was demonstrated to be present at high levels in retina compared to brain. Immunofluorescent staining of rat retina sections confirmed that syntaxin 3 is expressed by photoreceptor and bipolar cells in the retina. Thus, in the retina, expression of syntaxin 3 is correlated with ribbon synapses and may play a role in the tonic release of neurotransmitter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6713-6721
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • SNAP-25
  • SNARE complex
  • complexin
  • retina
  • ribbon synapse
  • synaptic vesicle exocytosis
  • syntaxin 3

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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