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Neuron connections seen in 3-D
Date:1/22/2010

A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, in Germany, led by the Spanish physicist Rubn Fernndez-Busnadiego, has managed to obtain 3D images of the vesicles and filaments involved in communication between neurons. The method is based on a novel technique in electron microscopy, which cools cells so quickly that their biological structures can be frozen while fully active.

"We used electron cryotomography, a new technique in microscopy based on ultra-fast freezing of cells, in order to study and obtain three-dimensional images of synapsis, the cellular structure in which the communication between neurons takes place in the brains of mammals" Rubn Fernndez-Busnadiego, lead author of the study which features on the front cover of this month's Journal of Cell Biology and a physicist at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, in Germany, tells SINC.

During synapsis, a presynaptic cell (emitter) releases neurotransmitters to another post-synaptic one (recipient), generating an electric impulse in it, thereby allowing nervous information to be transmitted. During this study, the researchers focused on the tiny vesicles (measuring around 40 nanometres in diameter), which transport and release the neurotransmitters from the presynaptic terminals.

"Thanks to the use of certain pharmacological treatments and the advanced 3D imaging analysis method we have developed, it is possible to observe the huge range of filamentous structures that are within the presynaptic terminal and interact directly with the synaptic vesicles, as well as to learn about their crucial role in responding to the electrical activity of the brain," explains Fernndez-Busnadiego.

The filaments connect the vesicles and also connect them with the active area, the part of the cellular membrane from which the neurotransmitters are released. According to the Spanish physicist, these filamentous structures act as barriers that block
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Contact: SINC
info@plataformasinc.es
34-914-251-820
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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