Molecules involved in the formation of synaptic connections in muscle and brain

Ruegg, M. A.. (2001) Molecules involved in the formation of synaptic connections in muscle and brain. Matrix Biology, Vol. 20, H. 1. pp. 3-12.

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Synapses are highly specialized structures designed to guarantee precise and efficient communication between neurons and their target cells. Molecules of the extracellular matrix have an instructive role in the formation of the neuromuscular junction, the best-characterized synapse. In this review, the molecular mechanisms underlying these instructive signals will be discussed with particular emphasis on the receptors involved. Additionally, recent evidence for the involvement of specific adhesion complexes in the formation and modulation of synapses in the central nervous system will be reviewed. Synapses are specialized junctions between neurons and their target cells where information is transferred from the pre- to the postsynaptic cell. At most vertebrate synapses, this transfer is accomplished by the release of a specific neurotransmitter from the presynaptic nerve terminal. The release of neurotransmitter is initiated by the action potential and the subsequent influx of Ca(2+) into the presynaptic nerve terminal. This results in the rapid fusion of vesicles with the nerve membrane and the release of the neurotransmitter into the synaptic cleft. The neurotransmitter then diffuses across the cleft and binds to specific postsynaptic receptors, resulting in a change in the membrane potential of the postsynaptic cell. This can result in the generation of an action potential. The high precision of synaptic transmission requires that pre- and postsynaptic structures are both highly organized and in juxtaposition to each other. In addition, alterations in synaptic transmission are the basis of learning and memory and are likely to be accompanied by the remodeling of synaptic structures (Toni et al., 1999). Thus, the study of how synapses are formed during development is also of relevance for the understanding of the cellular and molecular processes involved in learning and memory. This review focuses on the molecular mechanisms involved in the formation and the function of synapses.
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Biozentrum > Neurobiology > Pharmacology/Neurobiology (Rüegg)
UniBasel Contributors:Rüegg, Markus A.
Item Type:Article, refereed
Article Subtype:Research Article
Publisher:Elsevier Science
Note:Publication type according to Uni Basel Research Database: Journal article
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Last Modified:16 Apr 2019 15:45
Deposited On:22 Mar 2012 13:30

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