Corporate Banner
Satellite Banner
Proteomics
Scientific Community
 
Become a Member | Sign in
Home>News>This Article
  News
Return

First Steps of Synapse Building Captured in Live Zebra Fish Embryos

Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Bookmark and Share
Using spinning disk microscopy, scientists have gained a new window on how synapse-building components move to worksites in the central nervous system.

What researchers captured in these see-through embryos — in what may be one of the first views of early glutamate-driven synapse formation in a living vertebrate — were orderly movements of protein-carrying packets along axons to a specific site where a synapse would be formed.

The discovery, in research funded by the National Institutes of Health, is described in a paper placed online ahead of publication in the April 25 issue of the open-access journal Cell Reports. It is noteworthy because most synapses formed in vertebrates use glutamate as a neurotransmitter, and breakdowns in the process have been tied to conditions such as autism, schizophrenia and mental retardation.

The zebra fish has become one of the leading research models for studying early development, in general, and human-disease states.

In this case, researchers used immunofluorescence labeling to highlight the area they put under the microscopes. The embryos they studied were barely 24-hours old and a millimeter in length, but neurons in their spinal cord were already forming connections called synapses. Images were taken every 30 seconds over two hours.

"If we zoom out a bit and look at development in the human, the majority of synapse formation occurs in the cortex after birth and continues for the first two years in a baby's life," said Philip Washbourne, a professor of biology and member of the UO's Institute of Neuroscience.

Previous studies, done in vitro, contradicted each other, with one, in 2000, identifying a single packet of building blocks arriving at a pre-synaptic terminal. The other, in 2004, identified two protein packets. After watching the process unfold live, with imaging over long time spans, Washbourne said: "We now see at least three, and maybe more, such deliveries."

"Axons are long processes — think of them as highways — of neurons. In humans, these can be a meter long, from spinal cord to your big toe," he said. It's in the cell body where all the proteins are made, and they have to be transported out. Is it done by a single bus or by several cars? These results point to additional layers of complexity in the established mechanisms of synaptogenesis."

The new research also showed that sequence also is crucial. Two different pre-synaptic packages of molecules repeatedly arrived in the same order. A key building block — the protein synapsin — always arrived third. As these delivery vehicles traveled the axonal highway, another protein, a cyclin-dependent kinase known as Cdk5, acts as a stoplight at the synapse-construction site, where phosphorylation occurs. More research is needed on Cdk5, Washbourne said.

"Understanding how all this happens will inform us to what's going wrong in neurodevelopment that leads to diseases," Washbourne said. "We have indications that the glue that gets all this going includes a gene that has been linked to autism, so knowing how these molecules start the process of synapse formation — and what goes wrong in people with mutations in these genes — might allow for a therapeutic targeting to correct the mutations and manipulate the stop signs."

Co-authors with Washbourne on the paper were Courtney Easley-Neal and Javier Fierro Jr., doctoral students in Washbourne's lab, and JoAnn Buchanan, an electron microscopist in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology in the Stanford University School of Medicine.


Further Information

Join For Free

Access to this exclusive content is for Technology Networks Premium members only.

Join Technology Networks Premium for free access to:

  • Exclusive articles
  • Presentations from international conferences
  • Over 3,000+ scientific posters on ePosters
  • More than 4,400+ scientific videos on LabTube
  • 35 community eNewsletters


Sign In



Forgotten your details? Click Here
If you are not a member you can join here

*Please note: By logging into TechnologyNetworks.com you agree to accept the use of cookies. To find out more about the cookies we use and how to delete them, see our privacy policy.


Scientific News
Computational Model Finds New Protein-Protein Interactions
Researchers at University of Pittsburgh have discovered 500 new protein-protein interactions (PPIs) associated with genes linked to schizophrenia.
New Insights into Gene Regulation
Researchers have solved the three-dimensional structure of a gene repression complex that is known to play a role in cancer.
Controlling RNA in Living Cells
Modular, programmable proteins can be used to track or manipulate gene expression.
Soy Shows Promise as Natural Anti-Microbial Agent
Soy isoflavones and peptides may inhibit the growth of microbial pathogens that cause food-borne illnesses, according to a new study from University of Guelph researchers.
Potential Target for Revolutionary Antibiotics
An international team of including the Lomonosov Moscow State University researchers discovered which enzyme enables Escherichia coli bacterium (E. coli) to breathe.
DNA Barcodes Gone Wild
A team of researchers at University of Toronto’s Donnelly Centre and Sinai Health System’s Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute (LTRI) has developed a new technology that can stitch together DNA barcodes inside a cell to simultaneously search amongst millions of protein pairs for protein interactions.
Biomarkers for Profiling Prostate Cancer Patients
Exiqon A/S has announced the publication of validation of prognostic microRNA biomarkers for the aggressiveness of prostate cancer in independent cohorts.
Grant to Fund Million Peaks Project
The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded a prestigious Advanced Grant to Prof. Peter Schoenmakers, Prof. Albert Polman and Prof. Huib Bakker, all three of whom work at the University of Amsterdam (UvA).
Study Finds Factors That May Influence Influenza Vaccine Effectiveness
Researchers at NIH have suggested that the long-held approach to predicting seasonal influenza vaccine effectiveness may need to be revisited.
Enzyme Structure May Aid Antibiotic Development
Targeted enzyme is essential to every known strain of bacteria.
Scroll Up
Scroll Down
SELECTBIO

Skyscraper Banner
Go to LabTube
Go to eposters
 
Access to the latest scientific news
Exclusive articles
Upload and share your posters on ePosters
Latest presentations and webinars
View a library of 1,800+ scientific and medical posters
3,000+ scientific and medical posters
A library of 2,500+ scientific videos on LabTube
4,400+ scientific videos
Close
Premium CrownJOIN TECHNOLOGY NETWORKS PREMIUM FOR FREE!