DOI: 10.1083/jcb.200812150 ISSN: 1540-8140

Maturation of active zone assembly by Drosophila Bruchpilot

Wernher Fouquet, David Owald, Carolin Wichmann, Sara Mertel, Harald Depner, Marcus Dyba, Stefan Hallermann, Robert J. Kittel, Stefan Eimer, Stephan J. Sigrist
  • Cell Biology

Synaptic vesicles fuse at active zone (AZ) membranes where Ca2+ channels are clustered and that are typically decorated by electron-dense projections. Recently, mutants of the Drosophila melanogaster ERC/CAST family protein Bruchpilot (BRP) were shown to lack dense projections (T-bars) and to suffer from Ca2+ channel–clustering defects. In this study, we used high resolution light microscopy, electron microscopy, and intravital imaging to analyze the function of BRP in AZ assembly. Consistent with truncated BRP variants forming shortened T-bars, we identify BRP as a direct T-bar component at the AZ center with its N terminus closer to the AZ membrane than its C terminus. In contrast, Drosophila Liprin-α, another AZ-organizing protein, precedes BRP during the assembly of newly forming AZs by several hours and surrounds the AZ center in few discrete punctae. BRP seems responsible for effectively clustering Ca2+ channels beneath the T-bar density late in a protracted AZ formation process, potentially through a direct molecular interaction with intracellular Ca2+ channel domains.

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