Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research]]> http://www.scielo.br/rss.php?pid=0100-879X19980011&lang=en vol. 31 num. 11 lang. en <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> http://www.scielo.br/img/en/fbpelogp.gif http://www.scielo.br <![CDATA[<b>Purification and binding analysis of the nitrogen fixation regulatory NifA protein from <i>Azospirillum brasilense</i></b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100001&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en NifA protein activates transcription of nitrogen fixation operons by the alternative sigma54 holoenzyme form of RNA polymerase. This protein binds to a well-defined upstream activator sequence (UAS) located at the -200/-100 position of nif promoters with the consensus motif TGT-N10-ACA. NifA of Azospirillum brasilense was purified in the form of a glutathione-S-transferase (GST)-NifA fusion protein and proteolytic release of GST yielded inactive and partially soluble NifA. However, the purified NifA was able to induce the production of specific anti-A. brasilense NifA-antiserum that recognized NifA from A. brasilense but not from K. pneumoniae. Both GST-NifA and NifA expressed from the E. coli tac promoter are able to activate transcription from the nifHDK promoter but only in an A. brasilense background. In order to investigate the mechanism that regulates NifA binding capacity we have used E. coli total protein extracts expressing A. brasilense nifA in mobility shift assays. DNA fragments carrying the two overlapping, wild-type or mutated UAS motifs present in the nifH promoter region revealed a retarded band of related size. These data show that the binding activity present in the C-terminal domain of A. brasilense NifA protein is still functional even in the presence of oxygen. <![CDATA[<b>A chromatographic method for the production of a human immunoglobulin G solution for intravenous use</b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100002&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Immunoglobulin G (IgG) of excellent quality for intravenous use was obtained from the cryosupernatant of human plasma by a chromatographic method based on a mixture of ion-exchange, DEAE-Sepharose FF and arginine Sepharose 4B affinity chromatography and a final purification step by Sephacryl S-300 HR gel filtration. The yield of 10 experimental batches produced was 3.5 g IgG per liter of plasma. A solvent/detergent combination of 1% Tri (n-butyl) phosphate and 1% Triton X-100 was used to inactivate lipid-coated viruses. Analysis of the final product (5% liquid IgG) based on the mean for 10 batches showed 94% monomers, 5.5% dimers and 0.5% polymers and aggregates. Anticomplementary activity was 0.3 CH50/mg IgG and prekallikrein activator levels were less than 5 IU/ml. Stability at 37ºC for 30 days in the liquid state was satisfactory. IgG was stored in flasks (2.5 g/flask) at 4 to 8ºC. All the characteristics of the product were consistent with the requirements of the 1997 Pharmacopée Européenne. <![CDATA[<b>Purification of human albumin by the combination of the method of Cohn with liquid chromatography</b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Large volumes of plasma can be fractionated by the method of Cohn at low cost. However, liquid chromatography is superior in terms of the quality of the product obtained. In order to combine the advantages of each method, we developed an integrated method for the production of human albumin and immunoglobulin G (IgG). The cryoprecipitate was first removed from plasma for the production of factor VIII and the supernatant of the cryoprecipitate was fractionated by the method of Cohn. The first precipitate, containing fractions (F)-I + II + III, was used for the production of IgG by the chromatographic method (see Tanaka K et al. (1998) Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research, 31: 1375-1381). The supernatant of F-I + II + III was submitted to a second precipitation and F-IV was obtained and discarded. Albumin was obtained from the supernatant of the precipitate F-IV by liquid chromatography, ion-exchange on DEAE-Sepharose FF, filtration through Sephacryl S-200 HR and introduction of heat treatment for fatty acid precipitation. Viral inactivation was performed by pasteurization at 60ºC for 10 h. The albumin product obtained by the proposed procedure was more than 99% pure for the 15 lots of albumin produced, with a mean yield of 25.0 ± 0.5 g/l plasma, containing 99.0 to 99.3% monomer, 0.7 to 1.0% dimers, and no polymers. Prekallikrein activator levels were <=5 IU/ml. This product satisfies the requirements of the 1997 Pharmacopée Européenne. <![CDATA[<b>JAK/STAT-deficient cell lines</b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100004&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Mutant cell lines B3 and B10, which are unresponsive to both interferon (IFN)-alpha and IFN-gamma, and line B9, which does not respond to IFN-gamma stimulation, are described. The mutants were submitted to fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) from a cellular pool, which was obtained from the parental cell line 2C4 after several rounds of mutagenesis. The unresponsiveness to IFN stimulation was observed both in terms of expression of cell surface markers (CD2, class I and II HLAs) and mRNA expression of IFN-stimulated genes (2'-5' oligoadenylate synthetase (OAS), 9-27, and guanylate binding protein (GBP)). Genetic crossing of B3, B9 and B10 with U3 (STAT1-), gamma2a (JAK2-) and U4 (JAK1-) mutants, respectively, did not restore IFN responsiveness to the hybrid cell lines. However, when these cell lines were crossed with the same mutants, but using the pairwise crosses B3 x U4, B9 x U3 and B10 x U3, the cell hybrids recovered full IFN responsiveness. The present genetic experiments permitted us to assign the mutant cell lines B3, B9 and B10 to the U3, gamma2 and U4 complementation groups, respectively. These conclusions were supported by the analysis of IFN-stimulated genes in the mutants. <![CDATA[<b>Human group C rotavirus in children with diarrhea in the Federal District, Brazil</b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100005&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Group C rotaviruses are fastidious in their in vitro cell culture requirements. Recent serosurveys indicate that antibody to group C rotavirus is present in 3-45% of the human population in certain geographic locations, suggesting that rotavirus group C infection is more prevalent than previously believed and that the low rate of detection of these agents is probably due to the lack of sensitive diagnostic assays. From March to December 1994, 406 fecal specimens were collected from children under five years of age who were outpatients at the emergency services of nine public hospitals in Brasília, Federal District, Brazil. In addition to the samples from children, one public outpatient unit requested virological investigation of a stool sample from an HIV-seropositive adult male with diarrhea of sudden onset. All samples were analyzed by enzyme immunoassay for group A rotavirus and adenovirus (EIARA) and by polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE). One hundred and seven (26%) were positive for group A rotavirus. Four samples from children and the sample from the HIV-seropositive patient, although negative by EIARA, showed a group C rotavirus profile by PAGE and were positive for rotavirus by electron microscopy. Using specific VP6 and VP7 primers for group C rotavirus, a reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) was performed and products were detected by agarose gel electrophoresis and ethidium bromide staining. These products were confirmed to be specific for group C rotavirus by using digoxigenin-oligonucleotide probes, Southern hybridization and chemiluminescent detection. The five positive group C rotavirus samples were detected in August (3 samples) and September (2 samples). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of group C rotavirus detected in the Federal District, Brazil and in an HIV-seropositive patient with acute gastroenteritis. <![CDATA[Association of hepatic nuclear factor-4 in the apolipoprotein B promoter: a preliminary report]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100006&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Previous studies have examined the arrangement of regulatory elements along the apolipoprotein B (apoB) promoter region (-3067 to +940) and a promoter fragment extending from nucleotides -150 to +124 has been demonstrated to be essential for transcriptional activation of the apoB gene in hepatic and intestinal cells. It has also been shown that transcriptional activation of apoB requires a synergistic interaction between hepatic nuclear factor-4 (HNF-4) and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein a (C/EBPa) transcription factors. Here, we have examined the hypothesis that HNF-4 factor binding to DNA may induce a DNA helix bend, thus facilitating the communication with a C/EBPa factor located one helix turn from this HNF-4 factor in the apoB promoter. A gel electrophoretic mobility shift assay using wild type double-stranded oligonucleotides or modified wild type duplex oligonucleotides with 10 nucleotides inserted between HNF-4 and C/EBPa factor motifs showed similar retarded complexes, indicating that HNF-4 and C/EBPa factors interact independently of the distance between binding sites. However, when only one base, a thymidine, was inserted at the -71 position of the apoB promoter, the complex shift was completely abolished. In conclusion, these results regarding the study of the mechanisms involving the interaction between HNF-4 and C/EBPa factors in the apoB promoter suggest that the perfect 5'-CCCTTTGGA-3' motif is needed in order to facilitate the interaction between the two factors. <![CDATA[<b>The insulin receptor substrate 1 associates with phosphotyrosine phosphatase SHPTP2 in liver and muscle of rats</b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100007&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Insulin stimulates the tyrosine kinase activity of its receptor resulting in the phosphorylation of its cytosolic substrate, insulin receptor substrate-1 (IRS-1) which, in turn, associates with proteins containing SH2 domains. It has been shown that IRS-1 associates with the tyrosine phosphatase SHPTP2 in cell cultures. While the effect of the IRS-1/SHPTP2 association on insulin signal transduction is not completely known, this association may dephosphorylate IRS-1 and may play a critical role in the mitogenic actions of insulin. However, there is no physiological demonstration of this pathway of insulin action in animal tissues. In the present study we investigated the ability of insulin to induce association between IRS-1 and SHPTP2 in liver and muscle of intact rats, by co-immunoprecipitation with anti-IRS-1 antibody and anti-SHPTP2 antibody. In both tissues there was an increase in IRS-1 association with SHPTP2 after insulin stimulation. This association occurred when IRS-1 had the highest level of tyrosine phosphorylation and the decrease in this association was more rapid than the decrease in IRS-1 phosphorylation levels. The data provide evidence against the participation of SHPTP2 in IRS-1 dephosphorylation in rat tissues, and suggest that the insulin signal transduction pathway in rat tissues is related mainly to the mitogenic effects of the hormone. <![CDATA[<b>Insulin receptor has tyrosine kinase activity toward Shc in rat liver</b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100008&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Insulin induces tyrosine phosphorylation of Shc in cell cultures and in insulin-sensitive tissues of the intact rat. However, the ability of insulin receptor (IR) tyrosine kinase to phosphorylate Shc has not been previously demonstrated. In the present study, we investigated insulin-induced IR tyrosine kinase activity towards Shc. Insulin receptor was immunoprecipitated from liver extracts, before and after a very low dose of insulin into the portal vein, and incubated with immunopurified Shc from liver of untreated rats. The kinase assay was performed in vitro in the presence of exogenous ATP and the phosphorylation level was quantified by immunoblotting with antiphosphotyrosine antibody. The results demonstrate that Shc interacted with insulin receptor after infusion of insulin, and, more important, there was insulin receptor kinase activity towards immunopurified Shc. The description of this pathway in animal tissue may have an important role in insulin receptor tyrosine kinase activity toward mitogenic transduction pathways. <![CDATA[<b>Coupling of palmitate to ovalbumin inhibits the induction of oral tolerance</b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100009&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Oral tolerance is a phenomenon that may occur in animals exposed to protein antigens for the first time by the oral route. They become unable to produce immune responses at the levels normally observed when they are immunized parenterally with antigen in the presence of adjuvants. Lipids have been used as adjuvants for both parenteral and oral immunization. In the present study we coupled ovalbumin with palmitate residues by incubating the protein with the N-hydroxysuccinimide palmitate ester and tested the preparation for its ability to induce oral tolerance. This was performed by giving 20 mg of antigen to mice by the oral route 7 days prior to parenteral immunization in the presence of Al(OH)3. Mice were bled one week after receiving a booster that was given 2 weeks after primary immunization. Specific antibodies were detected by ELISA. Despite the fact that the conjugates are as immunogenic as the unmodified protein when parenterally injected in mice, they failed to induce oral tolerance. This discrepancy could be explained by differences in the intestinal absorption of the two forms of the antigen. In fact, when compared to the non-conjugated ovalbumin, a fast and high absorption of the lipid-conjugated form of ovalbumin was observed by "sandwich" ELISA. <![CDATA[<b>Thioglycollate-elicited murine macrophages are cytotoxic to<i> Mycoplasma arginini</i>-infected YAC-1 tumor cells</b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100010&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Macrophages are important components of natural immunity involved in inhibition of tumor growth and destruction of tumor cells. It is known that these cells can be activated for tumoricidal activity by lymphokines and bacterial products. We investigated whether YAC-1 tumor cells infected with Mycoplasma arginini stimulate nitric oxide (NO) release and macrophage cytotoxic activity. Thioglycollate-elicited macrophages from male BALB/c mice were co-cultured for 20 h with YAC-1 tumor cells infected or not with Mycoplasma arginini. The cytotoxic activity was evaluated by MTT assay and nitrite levels were determined with the Griess reagent. Thioglycollate-elicited macrophages co-cultured with noninfected YAC-1 cells showed low cytotoxic activity (34.7 ± 8.6%) and low production of NO (4.7 ± 3.1 µM NO2-). These macrophages co-cultured with mycoplasma-infected YAC-1 cells showed significantly higher cytotoxic activity (61.4 ± 9.1%; P<0.05) and higher NO production (48.5 ± 13 µM NO2-; P<0.05). Addition of L-NAME (10 mM), an inhibitor of NO synthesis, to these co-cultures reduced the cytotoxic activity to 37.4 ± 2% (P<0.05) and NO production to 3 ± 4 µM NO2- (P<0.05). The present data show that Mycoplasma arginini is able to induce macrophage cytotoxic activity and that this activity is partially mediated by NO. <![CDATA[<b>Antigenic characterization of Brazilian bovine viral diarrhea virus isolates by monoclonal antibodies and cross-neutralization</b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100011&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Nineteen Brazilian isolates of bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) were characterized antigenically with a panel of 19 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) (Corapi WV, Donis RO and Dubovi EJ (1990) American Journal of Veterinary Research, 55: 1388-1394). Eight isolates were further characterized by cross-neutralization using sheep monospecific antisera. Analysis of mAb binding to viral antigens by indirect immunofluorescence revealed distinct patterns of reactivity among the native viruses. Local isolates differed from the prototype Singer strain in recognition by up to 14 mAbs. Only two mAbs - one to the non-structural protein NS23/p125 and another to the envelope glycoprotein E0/gp48 - recognized 100% of the isolates. No isolate was recognized by more than 14 mAbs and twelve viruses reacted with 10 or less mAbs. mAbs to the major envelope glycoprotein E2/gp53 revealed a particularly high degree of antigenic variability in this glycoprotein. Nine isolates (47.3%) reacted with three or less of 10 E2/gp53 mAbs, and one isolate was not recognized by any of these mAbs. Virus-specific antisera to eight isolates plus three standard BVDV strains raised in lambs had virus-neutralizing titers ranging from 400 to 3200 against the homologous virus. Nonetheless, many antisera showed significantly reduced neutralizing activity when tested against heterologous viruses. Up to 128-fold differences in cross-neutralization titers were observed for some pairs of viruses. When the coefficient of antigenic similarity (R) was calculated, 49 of 66 comparisons (74.24%) between viruses resulted in R values that antigenically distinguish strains. Moreover, one isolate had R values suggesting that it belongs to a distinct serologic group. The marked antigenic diversity observed among Brazilian BVDV isolates should be considered when planning diagnostic and immunization strategies. <![CDATA[<b>Effects of sciatic-conditioned medium on neonatal rat retinal cells <i>in vitro</i></b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100012&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Schwann cells produce and release trophic factors that induce the regeneration and survival of neurons following lesions in the peripheral nerves. In the present study we examined the in vitro ability of developing rat retinal cells to respond to factors released from fragments of sciatic nerve. Treatment of neonatal rat retinal cells with sciatic-conditioned medium (SCM) for 48 h induced an increase of 92.5 ± 8.8% (N = 7 for each group) in the amount of total protein. SCM increased cell adhesion, neuronal survival and glial cell proliferation as evaluated by morphological criteria. This effect was completely blocked by 2.5 µM chelerythrine chloride, an inhibitor of protein kinase C (PKC). These data indicate that PKC activation is involved in the effect of SCM on retinal cells and demonstrate that fragments of sciatic nerve release trophic factors having a remarkable effect on neonatal rat retinal cells in culture. <![CDATA[<b>Decreased spermatogenic and androgenic testicular functions in adult rats submitted to immobilization-induced stress from prepuberty</b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100013&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en We investigated whether chronic stress applied from prepuberty to full sexual maturity interferes with spermatogenic and androgenic testicular functions. Male Wistar rats (40 days old) were immobilized 6 h a day for 60 days. Following immobilization, plasma concentrations of corticosterone and prolactin increased 135% and 48%, respectively, while plasma luteinizing hormone and testosterone presented a significant decrease of 29% and 37%, respectively. Plasma concentration of follicle-stimulating hormone was not altered in stressed rats. Chronic stress reduced the amount of mature spermatids in the testis by 16% and the spermatozoon concentration in the cauda epididymidis by 32%. A 17% reduction in weight and a 42% decrease in DNA content were observed in the seminal vesicle of immobilized rats but not in its fructose content. The growth and secretory activity of the ventral prostate were not altered by chronic stress. <![CDATA[<b>Karyological, biochemical, and physiological aspects of <i>Callophysus macropterus </i>(Siluriformes, Pimelodidae) from the Solimões and Negro Rivers (Central Amazon)</b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100014&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Karyological characteristics, i.e., diploid number, chromosome morphology and nucleolus organizer regions (NORs), biochemical characteristics, i.e., electrophoretic analysis of blood hemoglobin and the tissue enzymes lactate dehydrogenase (LDH), malate dehydrogenase (MDH), alcohol dehydrogenase (ADH), and phosphoglucose isomerase (PGI), and physiological characteristics, i.e., relative concentration of hemoglobin and intraerythrocytic concentrations of organic phosphates were analyzed for the species Callophysus macropterus collected from Marchantaria Island (white water system - Solimões River) and Anavilhanas Archipelago (black water system - Negro River). Karyological and biochemical data did not reveal significant differences between specimens collected at the two sites. However, the relative distribution of hemoglobin bands I and III (I = 16.33 ± 1.05 and III = 37.20 ± 1.32 for Marchantaria specimens and I = 6.33 ± 1.32 and III = 48.05 ± 1.55 for Anavilhanas specimens) and levels of intraerythrocytic GTP (1.32 ± 0.16 and 2.76 ± 0.18 for Marchantaria and Anavilhanas specimens, respectively), but not ATP or total phosphate, were significantly different, indicating a physiological adaptation to the environmental conditions of these habitats. It is suggested that C. macropterus specimens from the two collecting sites belong to a single population, and that they adjusted some physiological characteristics to adapt to local environmental conditions. <![CDATA[<b>The use of confocal laser scanning microscopy to analyze the process of parasitic protozoon-host cell interaction</b>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100015&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en In this communication we review the results obtained with the confocal laser scanning microscope to characterize the interaction of epimastigote and trypomastigote forms of Trypanosoma cruzi and tachyzoites of Toxoplasma gondii with host cells. Early events of the interaction process were studied by the simultaneous localization of sites of protein phosphorylation, revealed by immunocytochemistry, and sites of actin assembly, revealed by the use of labeled phaloidin. The results obtained show that proteins localized in the interaction sites are phosphorylated. The process of formation of the parasitophorous vacuole was monitored by labeling the host cell surface with fluorescent probes for lipids (PKH26), proteins (DTAF) and sialic acid (FITC-thiosemicarbazide) before interaction with the parasites. Evidence was obtained indicating transfer of components of the host cell surface to the parasite surface in the beginning of the interaction process. We also analyzed the distribution of cytoskeletal structures (microtubules and microfilaments visualized with specific antibodies), mitochondria (visualized with rhodamine 123), the Golgi complex (visualized with C6-NBD-ceramide) and the endoplasmic reticulum (visualized with anti-reticulin antibodies and DIOC6) during the evolution of intracellular parasitism. The results obtained show that some, but not all, structures change their position during evolution of the intracellular parasitism. <![CDATA[<B>Using green fluorescent protein to understand the mechanisms of G-protein-coupled receptor regulation</B>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100016&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en G protein-coupled receptor (GPCR) activation is followed rapidly by adaptive changes that serve to diminish the responsiveness of a cell to further stimulation. This process, termed desensitization, is the consequence of receptor phosphorylation, arrestin binding, sequestration and down-regulation. GPCR phosphorylation is initiated within seconds to minutes of receptor activation and is mediated by both second messenger-dependent protein kinases and receptor-specific G protein-coupled receptor kinases (GRKs). Desensitization in response to GRK-mediated phosphorylation involves the binding of arrestin proteins that serve to sterically uncouple the receptor from its G protein. GPCR sequestration, the endocytosis of receptors to endosomes, not only contributes to the temporal desensitization of GPCRs, but plays a critical role in GPCR resensitization. GPCR down-regulation, a loss of the total cellular complement of receptors, is the consequence of both increased lysosomal degradation and decreased mRNA synthesis of GPCRs. While each of these agonist-mediated desensitization processes are initiated within a temporally dissociable time frame, recent data suggest that they are intimately related to one another. The use of green fluorescent protein from the jellyfish Aqueora victoria as an epitope tag with intrinsic fluorescence has facilitated our understanding of the relative relationship between GRK phosphorylation, arrestin binding, receptor sequestration and down-regulation. <![CDATA[<B>Fluorescent ligands for studying neuropeptide receptors by confocal microscopy</B>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100017&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en This paper reviews the use of confocal microscopy as it pertains to the identification of G-protein coupled receptors and the study of their dynamic properties in cell cultures and in mammalian brain following their tagging with specific fluorescent ligands. Principles that should guide the choice of suitable ligands and fluorophores are discussed. Examples are provided from the work carried out in the authors' laboratory using custom synthetized fluoresceinylated or BODIPY-tagged bioactive peptides. The results show that confocal microscopic detection of specifically bound fluorescent ligands permits high resolution appraisal of neuropeptide receptor distribution both in cell culture and in brain sections. Within the framework of time course experiments, it also allows for a dynamic assessment of the internalization and subsequent intracellular trafficking of bound fluorescent molecules. Thus, it was found that neurotensin, somatostatin and mu- and delta-selective opioid peptides are internalized in a receptor-dependent fashion and according to receptor-specific patterns into their target cells. In the case of neurotensin, this internalization process was found to be clathrin-mediated, to proceed through classical endosomal pathways and, in neurons, to result in a mobilization of newly formed endosomes from neural processes to nerve cell bodies and from the periphery of cell bodies towards the perinuclear zone. These mechanisms are likely to play an important role for ligand inactivation, receptor regulation and perhaps also transmembrane signaling. <![CDATA[<B>Use of fluorescent probes to follow membrane traffic in nerve terminals</B>]]> http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-879X1998001100018&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en Optical tracers in conjunction with fluorescence microscopy have become widely used to follow the movement of synaptic vesicles in nerve terminals. The present review discusses the use of these optical methods to understand the regulation of exocytosis and endocytosis of synaptic vesicles. The maintenance of neurotransmission depends on the constant recycling of synaptic vesicles and important insights have been gained by visualization of vesicles with the vital dye FM1-43. A number of questions related to the control of recycling of synaptic vesicles by prolonged stimulation and the role of calcium to control membrane internalization are now being addressed. It is expected that optical monitoring of presynaptic activity coupled to appropriate genetic models will contribute to the understanding of membrane traffic in synaptic terminals.