Scientific publications

Sparse force-bearing bridges between neighboring synaptic vesicles

Dec 1, 2019 | Magazine: Brain Structure and Function

John F Wesseling, Sébastien Phan, Eric A Bushong, Léa Siksou, Serge Marty, Isabel Pérez-Otaño, Mark Ellisman


Most vesicles in the interior of synaptic terminals are clustered in clouds close to active zone regions of the plasma membrane where exocytosis occurs. Electron-dense structures, termed bridges, have been reported between a small minority of pairs of neighboring vesicles within the clouds. Synapsin proteins have been implicated previously, but the existence of the bridges as stable structures in vivo has been questioned.

Here we use electron tomography to show that the bridges are present but less frequent in synapsin knockouts compared to wildtype. An analysis of distances between neighbors in wildtype tomograms indicated that the bridges are strong enough to resist centrifugal forces likely induced by fixation with aldehydes. The results confirm that the bridges are stable structures and that synapsin proteins are involved in formation or stabilization.

CITATION  Brain Struct Funct. 2019 Dec;224(9):3263-3276. doi: 10.1007/s00429-019-01966-x. Epub 2019 Oct 30.