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Molecular and cellular neurosciences

Activity-dependent alteration of the morphology of a hippocampal giant synapse.


PMID 26687760

Abstract

Activity-dependent synaptic plasticity is a fundamental cellular process for learning and memory. While electrophysiological plasticity has been intensively studied, morphological plasticity is less clearly understood. This study investigated the effect of presynaptic stimulation on the morphology of a giant mossy fiber-CA3 pyramidal cell synapse, and found that the mossy fiber bouton altered its morphology with an increase in the number of segments. This activity-dependent alteration in morphology required the activation of glutamate receptors and an increase in postsynaptic calcium concentration. In addition, the intercellular retrograde messengers nitric oxide and arachidonic acid were necessary. Simultaneous recordings demonstrated that the morphological complexity of the presynaptic bouton and the amplitude of excitatory postsynaptic currents were well correlated. Thus, a single mossy fiber synapse has the potential for activity-dependent morphological plasticity at the presynaptic bouton, which may be important for learning and memory.

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