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J Phys Chem B. 2013 May 2;117(17):4779-88. doi: 10.1021/jp3115308. Epub 2013 Apr 17.

Presynaptic structure of Aplysia single live neuron by atomic force and confocal laser scanning microscope.

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Molecular Electronics and NanoStructures Laboratory, School of Chemistry, NS60, Seoul National University, Seoul 151-747, Republic of Korea.


The structural and functional plasticity of Aplysia mechanosensory presynaptic neurons has been studied in relation with the mechanism underlying learning and memory. Long-term facilitation (LTF), which is a well-known cellular model for long-term memory in Aplysia, is accompanied by new synaptic structural growth or change. We developed a combined atomic force microscope and confocal laser scanning microscope (AFM-CLSM) system integrated with a MATLAB routine for image processing to concurrently obtain high-resolution 3-dimensional (3D) outer-surface morphological images and 3D interior fluorescence images. With our combined AFM-CLSM system, volumetric changes in the presynaptic structures (varicosities) of Aplysia live sensory-motor neuron cocultures were observed. The spatial distribution of synaptic vesicle molecules in the preexisting varicosities was monitored together with a volumetric change in the varicosities. Our combined AFM-CLSM system is successfully adapted for measuring learning-related structural changes and the movement of synaptic molecules in the single live neuron through interaction force and fluorescence imaging.

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