Synapsins constitute a family of synaptic vesicle proteins essential for regulating neurotransmitter release. Only two domains are conserved in all synapsins: a short N-terminal A domain with a single phosphorylation site for cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) and CaM Kinase I, and a large central C domain that binds ATP and may be enzymatic. We now demonstrate that synapsin phosphorylation in the A domain, at the only phosphorylation site shared by all synapsins, dissociates synapsins from synaptic vesicles. Furthermore, we show that the A domain binds phospholipids and is inhibited by phosphorylation. Our results suggest a novel mechanism by which proteins reversibly bind to membranes using a phosphorylation-dependent phospholipid- binding domain. The dynamic association of synapsins with synaptic vesicles correlates with their role in activity-dependent plasticity.
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