Fife organizes synaptic vesicles and calcium channels for high-probability neurotransmitter release

Joseph J. Bruckner, Hong Zhan, Scott J. Gratz, Monica Rao, Fiona Ukken, Gregory Zilberg, Kate M. O'Connor-Giles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The strength of synaptic connections varies significantly and is a key determinant of communication within neural circuits. Mechanistic insight into presynaptic factors that establish and modulate neurotransmitter release properties is crucial to understanding synapse strength, circuit function, and neural plasticity. We previously identified Drosophila Piccolo-RIM-related Fife, which regulates neurotransmission and motor behavior through an unknown mechanism. Here, we demonstrate that Fife localizes and interacts with RIM at the active zone cytomatrix to promote neurotransmitter release. Loss of Fife results in the severe disruption of active zone cytomatrix architecture and molecular organization. Through electron tomographic and electrophysiological studies, we find a decrease in the accumulation of release-ready synaptic vesicles and their release probability caused by impaired coupling to Ca2+ channels. Finally, we find that Fife is essential for the homeostatic modulation of neurotransmission. We propose that Fife organizes active zones to create synaptic vesicle release sites within nanometer distance of Ca2+ channel clusters for reliable and modifiable neurotransmitter release.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-246
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Cell Biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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