A hippocampal mossy fiber synapse, which is implicated in learning and memory, has a complex structure in which mossy fiber boutons attach to the dendritic shaft by puncta adherentia junctions (PAJs) and wrap around a multiply-branched spine, forming synaptic junctions. Here, we electron microscopically analyzed the ultrastructure of this synapse in afadin-deficient mice. Transmission electron microscopy analysis revealed that typical PAJs with prominent symmetrical plasma membrane darkening undercoated with the thick filamentous cytoskeleton were observed in the control synapse, whereas in the afadin-deficient synapse, atypical PAJs with the symmetrical plasma membrane darkening, which was much less in thickness and darkness than those of the control typical PAJs, were observed. Immunoelectron microscopy analysis revealed that nectin-1, nectin-3, and N-cadherin were localized at the control typical PAJs, whereas nectin-1 and nectin-3 were localized at the afadin-deficient atypical PAJs to extents lower than those in the control synapse and N-cadherin was localized at their nonjunctional flanking regions. These results indicate that the atypical PAJs are formed by nectin-1 and nectin-3 independently of afadin and N-cadherin and that the typical PAJs are formed by afadin and N-cadherin cooperatively with nectin-1 and nectin-3. Serial block face-scanning electron microscopy analysis revealed that the complexity of postsynaptic spines and mossy fiber boutons, the number of spine heads, the area of postsynaptic densities, and the density of synaptic vesicles docked to active zones were decreased in the afadin-deficient synapse. These results indicate that afadin plays multiple roles in the complex ultrastructural morphogenesis of hippocampal mossy fiber synapses.
Pubmed ID: 28498492 RIS Download
Mesh terms: Animals | Cadherins | Cell Adhesion | Cell Adhesion Molecules | Dendrites | Gene Expression Regulation | Hippocampus | Homeodomain Proteins | Mice | Mice, Inbred C57BL | Mice, Transgenic | Microfilament Proteins | Models, Neurological | Morphogenesis | Mossy Fibers, Hippocampal | Nectins | Neurons | Potassium Channels | Presynaptic Terminals | Synapses | Transcription Factors
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