Chemical synaptic transmission is mediated by the release of one or more substances from a nerve terminal. These substances, called neurotransmitters, bind to receptors in the target cells.

Keywords: synapses; receptors; nerve terminal; vesicles; transmission

Figure 1.

Esterification of acetyl coenzyme A to acetylcholine.

Figure 2.

Decarboxylation of glutamate to γ‐aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Figure 3.

Hydroxylation of L‐tyrosine to L‐dihydroxyphenylalanine (L‐DOPA).

Figure 4.

Decarboxylation of L‐DOPA to dopamine.

Figure 5.

Dopamine is hydroxylated to form noradrenaline (norepinephrine).

Figure 6.

Noradrenaline (norepinephrine) is methylated to form adrenaline (epinephrine).

Figure 7.

Decarboxylation of tyrosine to tyramine.

Figure 8.

Decarboxylation of tyramine to octopamine.

Figure 9.

Hydroxylation of tryptophan to 5‐hydroxytryptophan.

Figure 10.

Decarboxylation of 5‐hydroxytryptophan (5‐HTP) to serotonin (5‐hydroxytryptamine).

Figure 11.

Decarboxylation of L‐histidine to histamine.

Figure 12.

Synthesis of nitric oxide (NO) via the oxidation of L‐arginine.


Further Reading

Burnstock G (1986) Purines as cotransmitters in the adrenergic and cholinergic neurones. Progress in Brain Research 68: 193–203.

Cooper JR, Bloom FE and Roth RH (1996) The Biochemical Basis of Neuropharmacology, 7th edn. New York: Oxford University Press.

Dale HH (1938) Acetylcholine as a chemical transmitter of the effects of nerve impulses. Journal of the Mount Sinai Hospital IV: 401–429.

Kandel ER, Schwartz JH and Jessell T (eds) (1999) Principles of Neural Science, 4th edn. Stamford, CT: Appleton & Lange.

Kupfermann I (1991) Functional studies of cotransmission. Physiological Reviews 71: 683–732.

Loewi O (1960) An autobiographic sketch. Perspectives in Biology and Medicine 4: 3–25.

Siegel GJ, Agranoff BW, Albers RW and Molinoff PB (eds) (1994) Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular, and Medical Aspects, 5th edn. New York: Raven Press.

Sossin WS, Fisher JM and Scheller RH (1989) Cellular and molecular biology of neuropeptide processing and packaging. Neuron 2: 1407–1417.

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Schwartz, James H(Apr 2001) Neurotransmitters. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000287]