Differential but convergent functions of Ca2+ binding to synaptotagmin-1 C2 domains mediate neurotransmitter release

Ok Ho Shin, Jun Xu, Josep Rizo, Thomas C. Südhof

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Neurotransmitter release is triggered by cooperative Ca2+- binding to the Ca2+-sensor protein synaptotagmin-1. Synaptotagmin-1 contains two C2 domains, referred to as the C2A and C2B domains, that bind Ca2+ with similar properties and affinities. However, Ca2+ binding to the C2A domain is not required for release, whereas Ca2+ binding to the C2B domain is essential for release. We now demonstrate that despite its expendability, Ca2+-binding to the C2A domain significantly contributes to the overall triggering of neurotransmitter release, and determines its Ca2+ cooperativity. Biochemically, Ca 2+ induces more tight binding of the isolated C2A domain than of the isolated C2B domain to standard liposomes composed of phosphatidylcholine and phosphatidylserine. However, here we show that surprisingly, the opposite holds true when the double C2A/B-domain fragment of synaptotagmin-1 is used instead of isolated C2 domains, and when liposomes containing a physiological lipid composition are used. Under these conditions, Ca2+ binding to the C2B domain but not the C2A domain becomes the primary determinant of phospholipid binding. Thus, the unique requirement for Ca2+ binding to the C2B domain for synaptotagmin-1 in Ca2+-triggered neurotransmitter release may be accounted for, at least in part, by the unusual phospholipid-binding properties of its double C2A/B-domain fragment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)16469-16474
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number38
StatePublished - Sep 22 2009


  • Calcium-binding site
  • Membrane fusion
  • Phospholipid binding
  • Synapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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