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Neuron. 2008 Jul 31;59(2):253-60. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.05.025.

A role for local calcium signaling in rapid synaptic partner selection by dendritic filopodia.

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Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Am Klopferspitz 18, 82152 Planegg-Martinsried, Germany.


Synapse elimination is an important process underlying the establishment of functional neuronal networks during development. Here, we tested the idea that neurons select among potential synaptic partners already during initial contact formation between dendritic filopodia and axons-well before mature synapses are established. We show that filopodia frequently make contact with axons, and while some contacts are selectively stabilized, many are short-lived. More specifically, we demonstrate that contacts with a certain population of GABAergic axons never get stabilized, indicating that filopodia already early on select between different types of axons. Local dendritic calcium transients that are independent of glutamate occur within seconds after contact formation, and their frequency is high where contacts become stabilized and low at short-lived contacts. Thus, filopodia are capable of choosing between potential synaptic partners well before a mature synapse is established.

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