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Cell Mol Life Sci. 2009 Jul;66(13):2037-47. doi: 10.1007/s00018-009-0005-7. Epub 2009 Mar 24.

Roles of glial cells in synapse development.

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Institute of Cellular and Integrative Neurosciences, CNRS UPR-3212, University of Strasbourg, 5, rue Louis Pasteur, 67084, Strasbourg, France.


Brain function relies on communication among neurons via highly specialized contacts, the synapses, and synaptic dysfunction lies at the heart of age-, disease-, and injury-induced defects of the nervous system. For these reasons, the formation-and repair-of synaptic connections is a major focus of neuroscience research. In this review, I summarize recent evidence that synapse development is not a cell-autonomous process and that its distinct phases depend on assistance from the so-called glial cells. The results supporting this view concern synapses in the central nervous system as well as neuromuscular junctions and originate from experimental models ranging from cell cultures to living flies, worms, and mice. Peeking at the future, I will highlight recent technical advances that are likely to revolutionize our views on synapse-glia interactions in the developing, adult and diseased brain.

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