A window into the synapse | molecular evoluionary neuroscience | Scoop.it

Visualizing the trafficking of synaptic proteins can help illuminate the functions of these critical neuronal components. However, a synapse's tiny dimensions and molecularly dense nature have made this endeavor difficult. Tanaka and Hirano tackled this problem by making cultured neurons synapse directly onto a coverslip and then monitoring the trafficking of fluorescently labeled receptors via total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. The authors coated glass surfaces with the synaptic adhesion protein neurexin, which is known to induce postsynaptic differentiation in cells, and then plated rat hippocampal neurons onto them. The neurons bound to the neurexin molecules and formed postsynaptic-like structures. Tanaka and Hirano used this preparation to visualize the recruitment of fluorescently labeled glutamate receptors to the 'pseudo-synapses'. - Nature Methods 9, 533 (2012) about Tanaka, H. & Hirano, T. Cell Reports 1, 291–298 (2012). http://www.nature.com/nmeth/journal/v9/n6/full/nmeth.2055.html

Via Julien Hering, PhD