Y-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA

(derived from glutamate)

neurotransmitters shown in Figure 7-41 are amino acids or derivatives of amino acids. Nucleotides such as ATP and the corresponding nucleosides, which lack phosphate groups, also function as neurotransmitters. Each neuron generally produces just one type of neurotransmitter.

All the "classic" neurotransmitters are synthesized in the cytosol and imported into membrane-bound synaptic vesicles within axon terminals, where they are stored. These vesicles are 40-50 nm in diameter, and their lumen has a low pH, generated by operation of a V-class proton pump in the vesicle membrane. Similar to the accumulation of metabolites in plant vacuoles (see Figure 7-23), this proton concentration gradient (vesicle lumen > cytosol) powers neuro-transmitter import by ligand-specific H+-linked antiporters in the vesicle membrane.

For example, acetylcholine is synthesized from acetyl coenzyme A (acetyl CoA), an intermediate in the degradation of glucose and fatty acids, and choline in a reaction catalyzed by choline acetyltransferase:


Acetyl CoA Choline 3

choline acetyltransferase

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