The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience

Myosin II activation and actin reorganization regulate the mode of quantal exocytosis in mouse adrenal chromaffin cells.

PMID 18434525


Chromaffin cells of the adrenal medulla are innervated by the sympathetic nervous system. Stimulation causes chromaffin cells to fire action potentials, leading to the exocytosis of various classes of transmitters into the circulation. Low-frequency electrical stimulation (action potentials delivered at 0.5 Hz) causes adrenal chromaffin cells to selectively release catecholamines through a kiss-and-run fusion event. Elevated electrical stimulation (action potentials at 15 Hz) evokes fusion pore dilation, full granule collapse, and additional release of the neuropeptide-containing proteinaceous granule core. Here we apply single-cell electrophysiological, electrochemical, and fluorescence measurements to investigate the cellular mechanism for this shift in exocytic behavior. We show that at low-frequency stimulation, a filamentous-actin cell cortex plays a key role in stabilizing the kiss-and-run fusion event. Increased stimulation disrupts the actin cortex, driving full granule collapse. We show that pharmacological perturbation of the actin cortex supersedes stimulus frequency in controlling exocytic mode. Finally, we show that nonmuscle myosin II activation contributes to the cytoskeleton-dependent control of the fusion event. Inhibition of myosin II or myosin light chain kinase under elevated stimulation frequencies inhibits fusion pore dilation and maintains the granule in a kiss-and-run mode of exocytosis. These results demonstrate an essential role for activity-evoked cytoskeletal rearrangement and the action of myosin II in the regulation of catecholamine and neuropeptide exocytosis and represent an essential element of the sympathetic stress response.