Neurotransmitters, neuropeptides and hormones are released through the regulated exocytosis of SVs (synaptic vesicles) and LDCVs (large dense-core vesicles), a process that is controlled by calcium. Synaptotagmins are a family of type 1 membrane proteins that share a common domain structure. Most synaptotagmins are located in brain and endocrine cells, and some of these synaptotagmins bind to phospholipids and calcium at levels that trigger regulated exocytosis of SVs and LDCVs. This led to the proposed synaptotagmin–calcium-sensor paradigm, that is, members of the synaptotagmin family function as calcium sensors for the regulated exocytosis of neurotransmitters, neuropeptides and hormones. Here, we provide an overview of the synaptotagmin family, and review the recent mouse genetic studies aimed at understanding the functions of synaptotagmins in neurotransmission and endocrine-hormone secretion. Also, we discuss potential roles of synaptotagmins in non-traditional endocrine systems.

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