Synapsin I and synapsin II are neuron-specific phosphoproteins that have a role in the regulation of neurotransmitter release and in the formation of nerve terminals. After depletion of synapsin II by antisense oligonucleotides, rat hippocampal neurons in culture were unable to consolidate their minor processes and did not elongate axons. These aberrant morphological changes were accompanied by an abnormal distribution of intracellular filamentous actin (F-actin). In addition, synapsin II suppression resulted in a selective decrease in the amounts of several synaptic vesicle-associated proteins. These data suggest that synapsin II participates in cytoskeletal organization during the early stages of nerve cell development.
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