The Meaning of a Mini

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Science  20 Jul 2001:
Vol. 293, Issue 5529, pp. 443-444
DOI: 10.1126/science.1063293

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The fusion of synaptic vesicles with the presynaptic membrane of the neuron in response to action potentials results in release of neurotransmitter into the synapse. But why are there spontaneous fusion events during which a single synaptic vesicle fuses with the presynaptic membrane in the absence of action potentials? As Verstreken and Bellen explain in their Perspective, it seems that spontaneous fusion does not merely reflect leakage of the synaptic machinery but rather is crucially important for organizing glutamate receptors in the postsynaptic neuromuscular junction of the developing fly ( Saitoe et al.).