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Available from: Dietmar Riedel, Jun 18, 2015
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    ABSTRACT: Synapses are the fundamental functional units of neural circuits, and their dysregulation has been implicated in diverse neurological disorders. At presynaptic terminals, neurotransmitter-filled synaptic vesicles are released in response to calcium influx through voltage-gated calcium channels activated by the arrival of an action potential. Decades of electrophysiological, biochemical, and genetic studies have contributed to a growing understanding of presynaptic biology. Imaging studies are yielding new insights into how synapses are organized to carry out their critical functions. The development of techniques for rapid immobilization and preservation of neuronal tissues for electron microscopy has led to a new renaissance in ultrastructural imaging that is rapidly advancing our understanding of synapse structure and function.
    Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience 05/2015; 9(196). DOI:10.3389/fncel.2015.00196 · 4.18 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Acoustic communication requires gathering, transforming, and interpreting diverse sound cues. To achieve this, all the spatial and temporal features of complex sound stimuli must be captured in the firing patterns of the primary sensory neurons and then accurately transmitted along auditory pathways for additional processing. The mammalian auditory system relies on several synapses with unique properties in order to meet this task: the auditory ribbon synapses, the endbulb of Held, and the calyx of Held. Each of these synapses develops morphological and electrophysiological characteristics that enable the remarkably precise signal transmission necessary for conveying the miniscule differences in timing that underly sound localization. In this article, we review the current knowledge of how these synapses develop and mature to acquire the specialized features necessary for the sense of hearing
    Hearing research 05/2014; DOI:10.1016/j.heares.2014.01.007 · 2.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: How size and shape of presynaptic active zones are regulated at the molecular level has remained elusive. Here we provide insight from studying rod photoreceptor ribbon-type active zones after disruption of CAST/ERC2, one of the cytomatrix of the active zone (CAZ) proteins. Rod photoreceptors were present in normal numbers, and the a-wave of the electroretinogram (ERG)--reflecting their physiological population response--was unchanged in CAST knock-out (CAST(-/-)) mice. Using immunofluorescence and electron microscopy, we found that the size of the rod presynaptic active zones, their Ca(2+) channel complement, and the extension of the outer plexiform layer were diminished. Moreover, we observed sprouting of horizontal and bipolar cells toward the outer nuclear layer indicating impaired rod transmitter release. However, rod synapses of CAST(-/-) mice, unlike in mouse mutants for the CAZ protein Bassoon, displayed anchored ribbons, normal vesicle densities, clustered Ca(2+) channels, and essentially normal molecular organization. The reduction of the rod active zone size went along with diminished amplitudes of the b-wave in scotopic ERGs. Assuming, based on the otherwise intact synaptic structure, an unaltered function of the remaining release apparatus, we take our finding to suggest a scaling of release rate with the size of the active zone. Multielectrode-array recordings of retinal ganglion cells showed decreased contrast sensitivity. This was also observed by optometry, which, moreover, revealed reduced visual acuity. We conclude that CAST supports large active zone size and high rates of transmission at rod ribbon synapses, which are required for normal vision.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 08/2012; 32(35):12192-203. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0752-12.2012 · 6.75 Impact Factor