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Cell. 2001 Nov 30;107(5):605-16.

Remodeling of synaptic actin induced by photoconductive stimulation.

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Neurobiology Section/Division of Biology, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Use-dependent synapse remodeling is thought to provide a cellular mechanism for encoding durable memories, yet whether activity triggers an actual structural change has remained controversial. We use photoconductive stimulation to demonstrate activity-dependent morphological synaptic plasticity by video imaging of GFP-actin at individual synapses. A single tetanus transiently moves presynaptic actin toward and postsynaptic actin away from the synaptic junction. Repetitive spaced tetani induce glutamate receptor-dependent stable restructuring of synapses. Presynaptic actin redistributes and forms new puncta that label for an active synapse marker FM5-95 within 2 hr. Postsynaptic actin sprouts projections toward the new presynaptic actin puncta, resembling the axon-dendrite interaction during synaptogenesis. Our results indicate that activity-dependent presynaptic structural plasticity facilitates the formation of new active presynaptic terminals.

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