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Neuron. 2006 May 4;50(3):401-14.

Activity-induced rapid synaptic maturation mediated by presynaptic cdc42 signaling.

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Institute of Neuroscience and Key Laboratory of Neurobiology, Shanghai Institutes for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 200031, China.


Maturation of presynaptic transmitter secretion machinery is a critical step in synaptogenesis. Here we report that a brief train of presynaptic action potentials rapidly converts early nonfunctional contacts between cultured hippocampal neurons into functional synapses by enhancing presynaptic glutamate release. The enhanced release was confirmed by a marked increase in the number of depolarization-induced FM4-64 puncta in the presynaptic axon. This rapid presynaptic maturation can be abolished by treatments that interfered with presynaptic BDNF and Cdc42 signaling or actin polymerization. Activation of Cdc42 by applying BDNF or bradykinin mimicked the effect of electrical activity in promoting synaptic maturation. Furthermore, activity-induced increase in presynaptic actin polymerization, as revealed by increased concentration of actin-YFP at axon boutons, was abolished by inhibiting BDNF and Cdc42 signaling. Thus, rapid presynaptic maturation induced by neuronal activity is mediated by presynaptic activation of the Cdc42 signaling pathway.

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