“Location, Location, Location!” My husband and I have been watching too many house-hunting shows on HGTV (International Househunters FTW!), so the importance of location has been beaten into my brain. This real estate mantra applies in cell biology too. Today’s image is from a paper describing how the location of a dendrite can affect the strength of the synapse.
The synapse is the site of exchange between one neuron and another. The presynaptic terminal of a neuron’s axon will connect with, and send a signal to, the dendrite of another neuron. That dendrite is likely one of several that arise from the cell body of a neuron. A recent paper describes the relationship between the strength/function of the presynaptic terminal and the position of the dendrite, in certain neuron populations. According to de Jong and colleagues, the closer a dendrite is positioned to its own cell body, the higher the presynaptic strength of the axon connecting to it. In the images above, a cultured hippocampal neuron was stained for a marker of synaptic vesicles (left, green). The presynaptic strength was analyzed by the intensity of the synaptic vesicle staining and then color coded (middle), while the location of each synapse was measured as the distance from the cell body (right).
de Jong, A., Schmitz, S., Toonen, R., & Verhage, M. (2012). Dendritic position is a major determinant of presynaptic strength originally published in the Journal of Cell Biology, 197 (2), 327-337 DOI: 10.1083/jcb.201112135