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The lumenal ionic content of an organelle is determined by its complement of channels and transporters. These proteins reach their resident organelles by adaptor-dependent mechanisms. This concept is illustrated in AP-3 deficiencies, in which synaptic vesicle zinc is depleted because the synaptic-vesicle-specific zinc transporter 3 does not reach synaptic vesicles. However, whether zinc transporter 3 is the only membrane protein defining synaptic-vesicle zinc content remains unknown. To address this question, we examined whether zinc transporter 3 and the vesicular glutamate transporter Vglut1 (a transporter that coexists with zinc transporter 3 in brain nerve terminals) were co-targeted to synaptic-like microvesicle fractions in PC12 cells. Deconvolution microscopy and subcellular fractionation demonstrated that these two transporters were present on the same vesicles in PC12 cells. Vglut1 content in synaptic-like microvesicle fractions and brain synaptic vesicles was partially sensitive to pharmacological and genetic perturbation of AP-3 function. Whole-cell flow-cytometry analysis of PC12 cell lines expressing zinc transporter 3, Vglut1 or both showed that vesicular zinc uptake was increased by Vglut1 expression. Conversely, production of zinc transporter 3 increased the vesicular uptake of glutamate in a zinc-dependent fashion. Our results suggest that the coupling of zinc transporter 3 and Vglut1 transport mechanisms regulates neurotransmitter content in secretory vesicles.

  • Accepted February 11, 2005.

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