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J Neurosci. 2011 Apr 20;31(16):6041-52. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6698-10.2011.

Rapid active zone remodeling during synaptic plasticity.

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Carl Ludwig Institute of Physiology, Medical Faculty, University of Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.


How can synapses change the amount of neurotransmitter released during synaptic plasticity? Although release in general is intensely investigated, its determinants during plasticity are still poorly understood. As a model for plastic strengthening of synaptic release, we here use the well-established presynaptic homeostatic compensation during interference with postsynaptic glutamate receptors at the Drosophila neuromuscular junction. Combining short-term plasticity analysis, cumulative EPSC analysis, fluctuation analysis, and quantal short-term plasticity modeling, we found an increase in the number of release-ready vesicles during presynaptic strengthening. High-resolution light microscopy revealed an increase in the amount of the active zone protein Bruchpilot and an enlargement of the presynaptic cytomatrix structure. Furthermore, these functional and structural alterations of the active zone were not only observed after lifelong but already after minutes of presynaptic strengthening. Our results demonstrate that presynaptic plasticity can induce active zone remodeling, which regulates the number of release-ready vesicles within minutes.

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