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Measuring synaptic vesicles using cellular electrochemistry and nanoscale molecular imaging

Journal article
Authors Nhu TN Phan
Xianchan Li
Andrew G Ewing
Published in Nature Reviews Chemistry
Volume 1
ISSN 2397-3358
Publication year 2017
Published at Department of Chemistry and Molecular Biology
Language en
Subject categories Molecular biology


The synaptic vesicle, a cellular compartment tens to hundreds of nanometres in size, is a main player in the process of exocytosis for neuronal communication. Understanding the regulatory mechanism of neurotransmission and neurological disorders requires the quantification of chemicals transmitted between cells. These challenging single vesicle measurements can be performed using analytical techniques described in this Review. In vivo amperometry at living cells can be used to quantify the amount of neurotransmitter released from a vesicle. By contrast, intracellular vesicle impact electrochemical cytometry allows the amount of molecules to be determined inside single vesicles. Although the dominant mode of exocytosis from vesicles is still under debate, several experiments point to the importance of partial release modes. Making use of fluorescent or isotopically labelled probes enables super-resolution optical and mass spectrometric imaging of molecular composition and activity of single vesicles. Correlating results from these nanoscopic techniques with those from electrochemistry has proved advantageous in understanding the relationship between vesicle structure and function. © 2017 Macmillan Publishers Limited.

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