A liquid phase of synapsin and lipid vesicles

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Neurotransmitter-containing synaptic vesicles (SVs) form tight clusters at synapses. These clusters act as a reservoir from which SVs are drawn for exocytosis during sustained activity. Several components associated with SVs that are likely to help form such clusters have been reported, including synapsin. Here we found that synapsin can form a distinct liquid phase in an aqueous environment. Other scaffolding proteins could coassemble into this condensate but were not necessary for its formation. Importantly, the synapsin phase could capture small lipid vesicles. The synapsin phase rapidly disassembled upon phosphorylation by calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II, mimicking the dispersion of synapsin 1 that occurs at presynaptic sites upon stimulation. Thus, principles of liquid-liquid phase separation may apply to the clustering of SVs at synapses.

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