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  • Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemicals that transmit signals across a synapse from one neuron to another 'target' neuron. They are packaged into synaptic vesicles clustered beneath the membrane in the axon terminal located at the presynaptic side of a synapse. Neurotransmitters are released into and diffused across the synaptic cleft, where they bind to specific receptors in the membrane on the postsynaptic side of the synapse. Many neurotransmitters are synthesized from plentiful and simple precursors, which are readily available from the diet and only require a small number of biosynthetic steps to convert them. Neurotransmitters play a major role in shaping everyday life and functions. Scientists do not yet know exactly how many neurotransmitters exist, but more than 100 chemical messengers have been identified. Most neurotransmitters are about the size of a single amino acid, however, some neurotransmitters may be the size of larger proteins or peptides. A released neurotransmitter is typically available in the synaptic cleft for a short time before it is metabolized by enzymes, pulled back into the presynaptic neuron through reuptake, or bound to a postsynaptic receptor.

Freebase Commons Chemistry /chemistry

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