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Curr Protoc Neurosci. 2013 Jul;Chapter 2:Unit 2.19. doi: 10.1002/0471142301.ns0219s64.

Assembly of synapses: biomimetic assays to control neurexin/neuroligin interactions at the neuronal surface.

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Université Bordeaux, Bordeaux Imaging Center, Bordeaux, France.


The role of adhesion molecules in the assembly of synapses in the nervous system is an important issue. To characterize the role of neurexin/neuroligin adhesion complexes in synapse differentiation, various imaging assays can be performed in primary hippocampal cultures. First, to temporally control contact formation, biomimetic assays can be performed using microspheres coated with purified neurexin or with antibody clusters that aggregate neurexin. These models are combined with live fluorescence imaging to study the dynamics of accumulation of post-synaptic components, including scaffolding molecules and glutamate receptors. To demonstrate that AMPA receptors can be recruited to nascent neurexin/neuroligin contacts through lateral diffusion, the mobility of AMPA receptors in the neuronal membrane is monitored by tracking individual quantum dots (QDs) conjugated to antibodies against AMPA receptors. Experiments monitoring the attachment and detachment of Nrx-coated QDs to measure the rates of neurexin/neuroligin interaction can also be performed. Each of these assays is detailed in this unit.

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