Studying the roles of different proteins and the mechanisms involved in synaptogenesis is hindered by the complexity and heterogeneity of synapse types, and by the spatial and temporal unpredictability of spontaneous synapse formation. Here we demonstrate a robust and high-content method to induce selectively presynaptic or postsynaptic structures at controlled locations. Neurons are cultured on micropatterned substrates comprising arrays of micron-scale dots coated with various synaptogenic adhesion molecules. When plated on neurexin-1β-coated micropatterns, neurons expressing neuroligin-1 exhibit specific dendritic organization and selective recruitment of the postsynaptic scaffolding molecule PSD-95. Furthermore, functional AMPA receptors are trapped at neurexin-1β dots, as revealed by live-imaging experiments. In contrast, neurons plated on SynCAM1-coated substrates exhibit strongly patterned axons and selectively assemble functional presynapses. N-cadherin coating, however, is not able to elicit synapses, indicating the specificity of our system. This method opens the way to both fundamental and therapeutic studies of various synaptic systems.
Pubmed ID: 23934334 RIS Download
Mesh terms: Animals | Cadherins | Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal | Cells, Cultured | Hippocampus | Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins | Membrane Proteins | Nerve Tissue Proteins | Neural Cell Adhesion Molecules | Neurons | Rats | Receptors, AMPA | Synapses
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