About this Research Topic
The synapse is a specialized junction critical for communication of a neuron and its target cell. Active zones along the presynaptic membrane of synapses are characterized by one or more dense aggregates of proteinaceous macromolecules, called active zone material (AZM). The size, shape, and distribution of AZM can vary from one synaptic type to another and between species. Despite the variation, synaptic vesicles containing neurotransmitters are docked at the active zone on the presynaptic membrane. Upon the arrival of an action potential, calcium channels open and some of the vesicles fuse with the presynaptic membrane releasing neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters diffuse across the synaptic cleft and bind to receptors on the postsynaptic membrane eliciting the postsynaptic response.
To enhance our understanding of synapses, it is important to understand presynaptic and postsynaptic structures during development, at mature synapses, and during plasticity. Advanced electron microscopy techniques make it possible to obtain images of cellular and subcellular structures at nanometer scales, and advanced light microscopy techniques provide ways to study their proteinaceous identity, if not all. 3D Modeling of the structures also helps visualize and understand their morphology and their relationship with adjacent structures. Quantitative modeling can provide insights for further understanding of synaptic functions including processes occurring during synaptic development, maintenance, and plasticity.
The goal of this Research Topic is to collect articles showing synaptic structures and models advancing our understanding of structure-function relationships at synapses during development and after development.
To this aim, we welcome authors to focus on, but not restricted to:
- Synaptic and/or subsynaptic structures of developing and/or developed synapses imaged by variants of electron microscopy and light microscopy.
- AZM and its relationship with synaptic vesicles of developing and/or developed synapses.
- Postsynaptic and/or sub-postsynaptic structures of developing and/or developed synapses.
- Quantitative models of synapses including theoretical approaches during and/or after development.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.