Expression of a putative vesicular acetylcholine transporter facilitates quantal transmitter packaging

Hong Jun Song, Guo Li Ming, Edward Fon, Elizabeth Bellocchio, Robert H. Edwards, Mu Ming Poo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

141 Scopus citations


A putative vesicular acetylcholine transporter (VAChT) was overexpressed in developing Xenopus spinal neurons by injection of rat VAChT cDNA or synthetic mRNA into Xenopus embryos. This resulted in a marked increase in the amplitude and frequency of miniature excitatory postsynaptic currents at neuromuscular synapses, reflecting an over 10-fold increase in the vesicular packaging of acetylcholine (ACh). The effect appeared in developing neurons even before synaptogenesis and was blocked by L-vesamicol, a specific blocker of ACh uptake into synaptic vesicles. Mutational studies showed that two highly conserved aspartate residues within putative transmembrane domains 4 and 10 are essential for the transport activity. These results provide direct evidence for the physiological function of a putative VAChT and demonstrate that quantal size can be regulated by changes in vesicular transporter activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)815-826
Number of pages12
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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