Vesicle priming and recruitment by ubMunc13-2 are differentially regulated by calcium and calmodulin

Dragoslav Zikich, Aviv Mezer, Frederique Varoqueaux, Anton Sheinin, Harald J. Junge, Esther Nachliel, Rely Melamed, Nils Brose, Menachem Gutman, Uri Ashery*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Ca2+ regulates multiple processes in nerve terminals, including synaptic vesicle recruitment, priming, and fusion. Munc13s, the mammalian homologs of Caenorhabditis elegans Unc13, are essential vesicle-priming proteins and contain multiple regulatory domains that bind second messengers such as diacylglycerol and Ca2+/calmodulin (Ca2+/CaM). Binding of Ca2+/CaM is necessary for the regulatory effect that allows Munc13-1 and ubMunc13-2 to promote short-term synaptic plasticity. However, the relative contributions of Ca2+ and Ca2+/CaM to vesicle priming and recruitment by Munc13 are not known. Here, we investigated the effect of Ca 2+/CaM binding on ubMunc13-2 activity in chromaffin cells via membrane-capacitance measurements and a detailed simulation of the exocytotic machinery. Stimulating secretion under various basal Ca2+ concentrations from cells overexpressing either ubMunc13-2 or a ubMunc13-2 mutant deficient in CaM binding enabled a distinction between the effects of Ca2+ and Ca2+/CaM. We show that vesicle priming by ubMunc13-2 is Ca2+ dependent but independent of CaM binding to ubMunc13-2. However, Ca2+/CaM binding to ubMunc13-2 specifically promotes vesicle recruitment during ongoing stimulation. Based on the experimental data and our simulation, we propose that ubMunc13-2 is activated by two Ca2+-dependent processes: a slow activation mode operating at low Ca2+ concentrations, in which ubMunc13-2 acts as a priming switch, and a fast mode at high Ca2+ concentrations, in which ubMunc13-2 is activated in a Ca2+/CaM-dependent manner and accelerates vesicle recruitment and maturation during stimulation. These different Ca2+ activation steps determine the kinetic properties of exocytosis and vesicle recruitment and can thus alter plasticity and efficacy of transmitter release.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1949-1960
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number8
StatePublished - 20 Feb 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Calcium
  • Calmodulin
  • Chromaffin cell
  • Exocytosis
  • Kinetic modeling
  • Munc13
  • Priming


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