The EMBO journal

Concerted action of zinc and ProSAP/Shank in synaptogenesis and synapse maturation.

PMID 21217644


Neuronal morphology and number of synapses is not static, but can change in response to a variety of factors, a process called synaptic plasticity. These structural and molecular changes are believed to represent the basis for learning and memory, thereby underling both the developmental and activity-dependent remodelling of excitatory synapses. Here, we report that Zn(2+) ions, which are highly enriched within the postsynaptic density (PSD), are able to influence the recruitment of ProSAP/Shank proteins to PSDs in a family member-specific manner during the course of synaptogenesis and synapse maturation. Through selectively overexpressing each family member at excitatory postsynapses and comparing this to shRNA-mediated knockdown, we could demonstrate that only the overexpression of zinc-sensitive ProSAP1/Shank2 or ProSAP2/Shank3 leads to increased synapse density, although all of them cause a decrease upon knockdown. Furthermore, depletion of synaptic Zn(2+) along with the knockdown of zinc-insensitive Shank1 causes the rapid disintegration of PSDs and the loss of several postsynaptic molecules including Homer1, PSD-95 and NMDA receptors. These findings lead to the model that the concerted action of ProSAP/Shank and Zn(2+) is essential for the structural integrity of PSDs and moreover that it is an important element of synapse formation, maturation and structural plasticity.

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Zinquin, ≥95% (HPLC), solid