Electron tomography on ?-aminobutyric acid-ergic synapses reveals a discontinuous postsynaptic network of filaments. Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • The regulation of synaptic strength at ?-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-ergic synapses is dependent on the dynamic capture, retention, and modulation of GABA A-type receptors by cytoplasmic proteins at GABAergic postsynaptic sites. How these proteins are oriented and organized in the postsynaptic cytoplasm is not yet established. To better understand these structures and gain further insight into the mechanisms by which they regulate receptor populations at postsynaptic sites, we utilized electron tomography to examine GABAergic synapses in dissociated rat hippocampal cultures. GABAergic synapses were identified and selected for tomography by using a set of criteria derived from the structure of immunogold-labeled GABAergic synapses. Tomography revealed a complex postsynaptic network composed of filaments that extend ? 100 nm into the cytoplasm from the postsynaptic membrane. The distribution of these postsynaptic filaments was strikingly similar to that of the immunogold label for gephyrin. Filaments were interconnected through uniform patterns of contact, forming complexes composed of 2-12 filaments each. Complexes did not link to form an integrated, continuous scaffold, suggesting that GABAergic postsynaptic specializations are less rigidly organized than glutamatergic postsynaptic densities.

publication date

  • March 2014