Macromolecular complexes at active zones: integrated nano-machineries for neurotransmitter release.
The release of neurotransmitters from synaptic vesicles exocytosing at presynaptic nerve terminals is a critical event in the initiation of synaptic transmission. This event occurs at specialized sites known as active zones. The task of faithfully executing various steps in the process is undertaken by careful orchestration of overlapping sets of molecular nano-machineries upon a core macromolecular scaffold situated at active zones. However, their composition remains incompletely elucidated. This review provides an overview of the role of the active zone in mediating neurotransmitter release and summarizes the recent progress using neuroproteomic approaches to decipher their composition. Key proteins of these nano-machineries are highlighted.