Clues into the functional significance of spontaneous miniature synaptic potentials (minis), which result from the "random" fusion of synaptic vesicles at nerve terminals, have been revealed by Saitoe et al., who examined minis in mutant Drosophila with known defects in presynaptic function. Minis, as well as regulated neurotransmitter release, only occurred in the neuromuscular junctions of flies that possessed normal clusters of glutamate receptors in postsynaptic cells. The developmental clustering of glutamate receptors may be linked to spontaneous vesicle release as a prequel to functional synapse formation. A Perspective by Verstreken and Bellen accompanies the report.
M. Saitoe, T. L. Schwarz, J. A. Umbach, C. B. Gundersen, Y. Kidokoro, Absence of junctional glutamate receptor clusters in Drosophila mutants lacking spontaneous transmitter release. Science 293, 514-517 (2001). [Abstract] [Full Text]
P. Verstreken, H. J. Bellen, The meaning of a mini. Science 293, 443-444 (2001). [Full Text]