Anomalous Diffusion of Synaptic Vesicles

Helena Stage (The University of Manchester)

ATB Frank Adams 1,

Synaptic vesicles are storage units for neurotransmitters that are released at the synapse. This release depends on an ion-induced Ca\(^{2+}\) voltage gradient which regulates the rate of release of the neurotransmitters (the neuron fires a signal). If the quantity of released neurotransmitters is too small we get unusual nerve signals. Understanding the transport of synaptic vesicles is thus important in designing treatment for disorders such as ALS or Parkinson's disease. A particularly puzzling question in the field is how the high frequency of neuron firing can be achieved when the synaptic vesicles must traverse a very crowded environment to reach the cell membrane and release their cargo.
In this talk I will introduce a mathematical model for the life cycle of synaptic vesicles and discuss the role of the crowded environments on large-scale transport. The crowding effects can be reconciled with experimental observations by introducing a zone of active transport or facilitated diffusion.
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