Genetic dissection of synaptic specificity

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2011 Feb;21(1):93-9. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2010.10.004. Epub 2010 Nov 17.


Nervous systems are built of a myriad of neurons connected by an even larger number of synapses. While it has been long known that neurons specifically select their synaptic partners among many possible choices during development, we only begin to understand how they make those decisions. Recent findings have started to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying synaptic target selection including positive as well as negative cues from synaptic partners, intermediate targets and surrounding tissues. Furthermore, emerging evidence suggests that synaptic connections are not only formed among specific sets of neurons, but also targeted to specific subcellular domains. Finally, spatial and temporal transcriptional regulation of these molecular cues represents an additional, versatile mechanism to provide wiring specificity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neural Pathways / cytology
  • Neural Pathways / growth & development*
  • Neurogenesis / physiology*
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Synapses / genetics
  • Synapses / physiology*