Structural stabilization of CNS synapses during postnatal development in rat cortex

J Neurochem. 2006 Jul;98(2):471-80. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.2006.03898.x.


CNS synapses are produced rapidly upon pre- and post-synaptic recruitment. However, their composition is known to change during development and we reasoned that this may be reflected in the gross biochemical properties of synapses. We found synaptic structure in adult cortical synaptosomes to be resistant to digestion with trypsin in the presence and absence of calcium ions, contrasting with previous observations. We evaluated the divalent cation dependence and trypsin sensitivities of synapses using synaptosomes from different developmental stages. In contrast to adult synapses, at postnatal day (P) 10 EDTA treatment eliminated approximately 60% of the synapses, and trypsin and EDTA, together, eliminated all junctions. Trypsinization in the presence of calcium eliminated approximately 60% of the junctions at P10. By P35, all synapses were calcium independent, whereas full trypsin resistance was not attained until P49. To compare the calcium dependence and trypsin sensitivity of synapses in another region of the adult brain, we examined synapses from adult (P50) hippocampus. Adult hippocampus maintained a population of synapses that resembled that of P35 cortex. Our results show that synapses are modified over a long time period in the developing cortex. We propose a model in which the addition of synergistic calcium-dependent and -independent adhesive systems stabilize synapses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Blotting, Western
  • Calcium / physiology
  • Cations, Divalent / pharmacology
  • Central Nervous System / growth & development*
  • Central Nervous System / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Edetic Acid / pharmacology
  • Electrophoresis, Polyacrylamide Gel
  • Hippocampus / cytology
  • Hippocampus / growth & development
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Rats
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptosomes / drug effects
  • Synaptosomes / physiology
  • Trypsin / chemistry


  • Cations, Divalent
  • Edetic Acid
  • Trypsin
  • Calcium