Microvesicles in endocrine cells are the morphological and functional equivalent of neuronal synaptic vesicles. Microvesicles accumulate various neurotransmitters through a transmitter-specific vesicular transporter energized by vacuolar H(+)-ATPase. We found that mammalian pinealocytes, endocrine cells that synthesize and secrete melatonin, accumulate l-glutamate in their microvesicles and secrete it through exocytosis. Pinealocytes use l-glutamate as either a paracrine- or autocrine-like chemical transmitter in a receptor-mediated manner, resulting in inhibition of melatonin synthesis. In this article, we briefly describe the overall features of the microvesicle-mediated signal-transduction mechanism in the pineal gland and discuss the important role of acidic organelles in a novel regulatory mechanism for hormonal synthesis and secretion.

This content is only available via PDF.