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J Physiol. 2003 Oct 1;552(Pt 1):1-11. Epub 2003 Aug 1.

Synaptogenesis in the CNS: an odyssey from wiring together to firing together.

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Neuroscience and Respiratory Research Groups, Faculty of Medicine, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 4N1.


To acquire a better comprehension of nervous system function, it is imperative to understand how synapses are assembled during development and subsequently altered throughout life. Despite recent advances in the fields of neurodevelopment and synaptic plasticity, relatively little is known about the mechanisms that guide synapse formation in the central nervous system (CNS). Although many structural components of the synaptic machinery are pre-assembled prior to the arrival of growth cones at the site of their potential targets, innumerable changes, central to the proper wiring of the brain, must subsequently take place through contact-mediated cell-cell communications. Identification of such signalling molecules and a characterization of various events underlying synaptogenesis are pivotal to our understanding of how a brain cell completes its odyssey from "wiring together to firing together". Here we attempt to provide a comprehensive overview that pertains directly to the cellular and molecular mechanisms of selection, formation and refinement of synapses during the development of the CNS in both vertebrates and invertebrates.

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