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Synaptic Maintenance, Remodeling and Tenacity

At a fundamental level, the central nervous system (CNS) may be viewed as a vast network of nerve cells interconnected by synapses, cell-to-cell contacts specialized for signal transmission.

Synapses are widely believed to constitute loci at which modifications, driven by particular activation histories, bring about persistent changes in functional properties of neuronal networks.

CNS synapses, however, are minute, often located at enormous distances from the cells biosynthetic centers, and are composed of remarkably dynamic constituents. It is thus unclear to what extent synapses are capable of maintaining their individual properties over behavioral time scales.

We have been using proteomics, advanced imaging techniques and multielectrode array recordings to study the dynamics and turnover of synaptic molecules, the capacity of synapses to preserve their individual properties, the degree to which this capacity depends on activity and neuromodulators and the rules and principles that govern directed and spontaneous remodeling of excitatory and inhibitory synaptic specializations.