Synaptotagmins belong to a large family of proteins. While various synaptotagmins have been implicated as Ca2+ sensors for vesicle replenishment and release at conventional synapses, their roles at retinal ribbon synapses remain incompletely understood. Zebrafish is a widely used experimental model for retinal research. We therefore investigated the homology between human, rat, mouse, and zebrafish synaptotagmins 1 to 10 using a bioinformatics approach. We also characterized the expression and distribution of various synaptotagmin (syt) genes in the zebrafish retina, using RT-PCR and in situ hybridization, focusing on the family members whose products likely underlie Ca2+-dependent exocytosis in the central nervous system (synaptotagmins 1, 2, 5 and 7). We find that most zebrafish synaptotagmins are well conserved and can be grouped in the same classes as mammalian synaptotagmins, based on crucial amino acid residues needed for coordinating Ca2+ binding and determining phospholipid binding affinity. The only exception is synaptotagmin 1b, which lacks 34 amino acid residues in the C2B domain and is therefore unlikely to bind Ca2+ there. Additionally, the products of zebrafish syt5a and syt5b genes share identity with mammalian class 1 and class 5 synaptotagmins. Zebrafish syt1, syt2, syt5 and syt7 paralogues are found in the zebrafish brain, eye, and retina, excepting syt1b, which is only present in the brain. The complementary expression pattern of the remaining paralogues in the retina suggests that syt1a and syt5a may underlie synchronous release and syt7a and syt7b may mediate asynchronous release or other Ca2+ dependent processes in different types of retinal neurons.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience