We applied electrochemical techniques with nano-tip electrodes to show that micromolar concentrations of zinc not only trigger changes in the dynamics of exocytosis, but also vesicle content in a model cell line. The vesicle catecholamine content in PC12 cells is significantly decreased after 100 μm zinc treatment, but, catecholamine release during exocytosis remains nearly the same. This contrasts with the number of molecules stored in the exocytosis vesicles, which decreases, and we find that the amount of catecholamine released from zinc-treated cells reaches nearly 100 % content expelled. Further investigation shows that zinc slows down exocytotic release. Our results provide the missing link between zinc and the regulation of neurotransmitter release processes, which might be important in memory formation and storage.
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