May 24, 2020

Synapse elimination activates a coordinated homeostatic presynaptic response in an autaptic circuit

Communications Biology
Cecilia D Velasco, Artur Llobet


The number of synapses present in a neuronal circuit is not fixed. Neurons must compensate for changes in connectivity caused by synaptic pruning, learning processes or pathological conditions through the constant adjustment of the baseline level of neurotransmission. Here, we show that cholinergic neurons grown in an autaptic circuit in the absence of glia sense the loss of half of their synaptic contacts triggered by exposure to peptide p4.2, a C-terminal fragment of SPARC. Synaptic elimination is driven by a reorganization of the periodic F-actin cytoskeleton present along neurites, and occurs without altering the density of postsynaptic receptors. Neurons recover baseline neurotransmission through a homeostatic presynaptic response that consists of the coordinated activation of rapid synapse formation and an overall potentiation of presynaptic calcium influx. These results demonstrate that neurons establishing autaptic connections continuously sense and adjust their synaptic output by tweaking the number of functional contacts and neurotransmitter release probability.

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Mentioned in this Paper

Postsynaptic Potentials
Transmembrane Calcium Influx
Synaptic Transmission

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