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Miller, K.E., DeProto, J., Kaufmann, N., Patel, B.N., Duckworth, A., Van Vactor, D. (2005). Direct observation demonstrates that Liprin-alpha is required for trafficking of synaptic vesicles.  Curr. Biol. 15(7): 684--689.
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Axonal transport is required for the elaboration and maintenance of synaptic morphology and function. Liprin-alphas are scaffolding proteins important for synapse structure and electrophysiology. A reported interaction with Kinesin-3 (Kif1a) suggested Liprin-alpha may also be involved in axonal transport. Here, at the light and ultrastructural levels, we discover aberrant accumulations of synaptic vesicle markers (Synaptotagmin and Synaptobrevin-GFP) and clear-core vesicles along Drosophila Liprin-alpha mutant axons. Analysis of presynaptic markers reveals reduced levels at Liprin-alpha synapses. Direct visualization of Synaptobrevin-GFP transport in living animals demonstrates a decrease in anterograde processivity in Liprin-alpha mutants but also an increase in retrograde transport initiation. Pull-down assays reveal that Liprin-alpha interacts with Drosophila Kinesin-1 (Khc) but not dynein. Together, these findings suggest that Liprin-alpha promotes the delivery of synaptic material by a direct increase in kinesin processivity and an indirect suppression of dynein activation. This work is the first to use live observation in Drosophila mutants to demonstrate the role of a scaffolding protein in the regulation of bidirectional transport. It suggests the synaptic strength and morphology defects linked to Liprin-alpha may in part be due to a failure in the delivery of synaptic-vesicle precursors.

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