One of the fundamental questions in Neuroscience is how the structure of synapses and their physiological properties are related. While synaptic transmission remains a dynamic process, electron microscopy provides images with comparably low temporal resolution (Studer et al., 2014). The current work overcomes this challenge and describes an improved “Flash and Freeze” technique (Watanabe et al., 2013a; Watanabe et al., 2013b) to study synaptic transmission at the hippocampal mossy fiber-CA3 pyramidal neuron synapses, using mouse acute brain slices and organotypic slices culture. The improved method allowed for selective stimulation of presynaptic mossy fiber boutons and the observation of synaptic vesicle pool dynamics at the active zones. Our results uncovered several intriguing morphological features of mossy fiber boutons. First, the docked vesicle pool was largely depleted (more than 70%) after stimulation, implying that the docked synaptic vesicles pool and readily releasable pool are vastly overlapping in mossy fiber boutons. Second, the synaptic vesicles are skewed towards larger diameters, displaying a wide range of sizes. An increase in the mean diameter of synaptic vesicles, after single and repetitive stimulation, suggests that smaller vesicles have a higher release probability. Third, we observed putative endocytotic structures after moderate light stimulation, matching the timing of previously described ultrafast endocytosis (Watanabe et al., 2013a; Delvendahl et al., 2016). In addition, synaptic transmission depends on a sophisticated system of protein machinery and calcium channels (Südhof, 2013b), which amplifies the challenge in studying synaptic communication as these interactions can be potentially modified during synaptic plasticity. And although recent study elucidated the potential correlation between physiological and morphological properties of synapses during synaptic plasticity (Vandael et al., 2020), the molecular underpinning of it remains unknown. Thus, the presented work tries to overcome this challenge and aims to pinpoint changes in the molecular architecture at hippocampal mossy fiber bouton synapses during short- and long-term potentiation (STP and LTP), we combined chemical potentiation, with the application of a cyclic adenosine monophosphate agonist (i.e. forskolin) and freeze-fracture replica immunolabelling. This method allowed the localization of membrane-bound proteins with nanometer precision within the active zone, in particular, P/Q-type calcium channels and synaptic vesicle priming proteins Munc13-1/2. First, we found that the number of clusters of Munc13-1 in the mossy fiber bouton active zone increased significantly during STP, but decreased to lower than the control value during LTP. Secondly, although the distance between the calcium channels and Munc13-1s did not change after induction of STP, it shortened during the LTP phase. Additionally, forskolin did not affect Munc13-2 distribution during STP and LTP. These results indicate the existence of two distinct mechanisms that govern STP and LTP at mossy fiber bouton synapses: an increase in the readily realizable pool in the case of STP and a potential increase in release probability during LTP. “Flash and freeze” and functional electron microscopy, are versatile methods that can be successfully applied to intact brain circuits to study synaptic transmission even at the molecular level.
Kim O. Nanoarchitecture of hippocampal mossy fiber-CA3 pyramidal neuron synapses. 2022. doi:10.15479/at:ista:11196
Kim, O. (2022). Nanoarchitecture of hippocampal mossy fiber-CA3 pyramidal neuron synapses. ISTA. https://doi.org/10.15479/at:ista:11196
Kim, Olena. “Nanoarchitecture of Hippocampal Mossy Fiber-CA3 Pyramidal Neuron Synapses.” ISTA, 2022. https://doi.org/10.15479/at:ista:11196.
O. Kim, “Nanoarchitecture of hippocampal mossy fiber-CA3 pyramidal neuron synapses,” ISTA, 2022.
Kim O. 2022. Nanoarchitecture of hippocampal mossy fiber-CA3 pyramidal neuron synapses. ISTA.
Kim, Olena. Nanoarchitecture of Hippocampal Mossy Fiber-CA3 Pyramidal Neuron Synapses. ISTA, 2022, doi:10.15479/at:ista:11196.
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