Background. The integral synaptic vesicle protein and putative calcium sensor, synaptotagmin 1 (STG), has also been implicated in synaptic vesicle (SV) recovery. However, proteins with which STG interacts during SV endocytosis remain poorly understood. We have isolated an STG-associated endocytic complex (SAE) from presynaptic nerve terminals and have used a novel fractional recovery (FR) assay based on electrostatic dissociation to identify SAE components and map the complex structure. The location of SAE in the presynaptic terminal was determined by high-resolution quantitative immunocytochemistry at the chick ciliary ganglion giant calyx-type synapse. Methodology/Principle Findings. The first step in FR analysis was to immunoprecipitate (IP) the complex with an antibody against one protein component (the IP-protein). The immobilized complex was then exposed to a high salt (1150 mM) stress-test that caused shedding of co-immunoprecipitated proteins (co-IP-proteins). A Fractional Recovery ratio (FR recovery after high salt/recovery with control salt as assayed by Western blot) was calculated for each co-IP-protein. These FR values reflect complex structure since an easily dissociated protein, with a low FR value, cannot be intermediary between the IP-protein and a salt-resistant protein. The structure of the complex was mapped and a blueprint generated with a pair of FR analyses generated using two different IP-proteins. The blueprint of SAE contains an AP180/X/STG/ stonin 2/intersectin/epsin core (X is unknown and epsin is hypothesized), and an AP2 adaptor, H-/L-clathrin coat and dynamin scission protein perimeter. Quantitative immunocytochemistry (ICA/ICQ method) at an isolated calyx-type presynaptic terminal indicates that this complex is associated with STG at the presynaptic transmitter release face but not with STG on intracellular synaptic vesicles. Conclusions/Significance. We hypothesize that the SAE serves as a recognition site and also as a seed complex for clathrin-mediated synaptic vesicle recovery. The combination of FR analysis with quantitative immunocytochemistry provides a novel and effective strategy for the identification and characterization of biologically-relevant multi-molecular complexes.
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