The vesicular monoamine transporter 2 is present in small synaptic vesicles and preferentially localizes to large dence core vesicles in rat solitary tract nuclei
Membrane Transport Proteins
In central neurons, monamine neurotransmitters are taken up and stored within two distinct classes of regulated secretory vesicles: small synaptic vesicles and large dense core vesicles (DCVs). Biochemical and pharmacological evidence has shown that this uptake is mediated by specific vesicular monamine transporters (VMATs). Recent molecular cloning techniques have identified the vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT2) that is expressed in brain. This transporter determines the sites of intracellular storage of monoamines and has been implicated in both the modulation of normal monoaminergic neurotransmission and the pathogenesis of related neuropsychiatric disease. We used an antiserum against VMAT2 to examine its ultrastructural distribution in rat solitary tract nuclei, a region that contains a dense and heterogeneous population of monoaminergic neurons. We find that both immunoperoxidase and immunogold labeling for VMAT2 localize to DCVs and small synaptic vesicles in axon terminals, the trans-Golgi network of neuronal perikarya, tubulovesicles of smooth endoplasmic reticulum, and potential sites of vesicular membrane recycling. In axon terminals, immunogold labeling for VMAT2 was preferentially associated with DCVs at sites distant from typical synaptic junctions. The results provide direct evidence that a single VMAT is expressed in two morphologically distinct types of regulated secretory vesicles in central monoaminergic neurons.