Diurnal variations in the photoreceptor synaptic terminals of the newt retina
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Newt photoreceptor synaptic terminals undergo a variety of morphological changes over a 24-hr (LD 12:12) cycle. During the day, dense-cored synaptic vesicles were found to increase in number and accumulate near the synaptic lamellae; during the dark phase, the dense-cored vesicles decreased in number, while large clear vesicles and profiles of smooth endoplasmic reticulum increased in frequency. The most marked change in photoreceptor synaptic terminal morphology occurred after 10 hr of darkness, at 0730 hr. At this time, photoreceptor synaptic terminal cross-sectional area was found to increase dramatically. Morphometric analysis showed that the number of synaptic vesicles in these terminals remained constant throughout the day, as did the perimeter of photoreceptor terminal profiles. The observed increase in area of synaptic terminals at 0730 hr was found to be due to a decrease in the folding of the terminal plasma membrane. Qualitative observations showed endocytosis to be occurring at a rapid rate at this time as well; and since the number of synaptic vesicles and terminal perimeter did not change, exocytosis of synaptic vesicles was assumed to be occurring at an equally rapid rate. These findings support an extension to the hypothesis of Monaghan and Osborne (1975), suggesting that photoreceptor synaptic vesicles become "supercharged" with transmitter substance in the light.
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