The lipid composition of purified Torpedo cholinergic synaptic vesicles was determined and their distribution between the inner and outer leaflets of the vesicular membrane was investigated. The vesicles contain cholesterol and phospholipids at a molar ratio of 0.63. The vesicular phospholipids are (mol% of total phospholipids): phosphatidylcholine (40.9); phosphatidylethanolamine (24.6); plasmenylethanolamine (11.5); sphingomyelin (12); phosphatidylserine (7.3); phosphatidylinositol (3.7). The asymmetry of the synaptic vesicle membranes was investigated by two independent approaches: (a) determining accessibility of the amino lipids to the chemical label trinitrobenzenesulphonic acid (TNBS); (b) determining accessibility of the vesicular glycerophospholipids to phospholipase C (Bacillus cereus). TNBS was found to render the vesicles leaky and thus cannot be used reliably to determine the asymmetry of Torpedo synaptic vesicle membranes. Incubation of the vesicles with phospholipase C (Bacillus cereus) results in biphasic hydrolysis of the vesicular glycerophospholipids. About 45% of the phospholipids are hydrolysed in less than 1 min, during which no vesicular acetylcholine is released. In the second phase, the hydrolysis of the phospholipids slows down markedly and is accompanied by loss of all the vesicular acetylcholine. These findings suggest that the lipids hydrolysed during the first phase are those comprising the outer leaflet. Analysis of the results thus obtained indicate that the vesicular membrane is asymmetric: all the phosphatidylinositol, 77% of the phosphatidylethanolamine, 47% of the plasmenylethanolamine and 58% of the phosphatidylcholine were found to reside in the outer leaflet. Since phosphatidylserine is a poor substrate for phospholipase C (B. cereus), its distribution between the two leaflets of the synaptic vesicle membrane is only suggestive.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.