Visualizing presynaptic function

Ege T. Kavalali, Erik M. Jorgensen

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Synaptic communication in the nervous system is initiated by the fusion of synaptic vesicles with the presynaptic plasma membrane and subsequent neurotransmitter release. In the 1980s, this process was characterized by electron microscopy, albeit without the ability to follow processes in living cells. In the last two decades, fluorescence imaging methods have been developed that report synaptic vesicle fusion, endocytosis and recycling. These probes have provided unprecedented insight into synaptic vesicle trafficking in individual synaptic terminals and revealed heterogeneity in recycling pathways as well as synaptic vesicle populations. These methods either take advantage of uptake of fluorescent probes into recycling vesicles or exogenous expression of synaptic vesicle proteins tagged with a pH-sensitive fluorescent marker at regions facing the vesicle lumen. We provide an overview of these methods, with particular emphasis on the challenges associated with their use and the opportunities for future investigations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10-16
Number of pages7
JournalNature neuroscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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