Deep molecular diversity of mammalian synapses: why it matters and how to measure it

Nat Rev Neurosci. 2012 May 10;13(6):365-79. doi: 10.1038/nrn3170.


Pioneering studies in the middle of the twentieth century revealed substantial diversity among mammalian chemical synapses and led to a widely accepted classification of synapse type on the basis of neurotransmitter molecule identity. Subsequently, powerful new physiological, genetic and structural methods have enabled the discovery of much deeper functional and molecular diversity within each traditional neurotransmitter type. Today, this deep diversity continues to pose both daunting challenges and exciting new opportunities for neuroscience. Our growing understanding of deep synapse diversity may transform how we think about and study neural circuit development, structure and function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Humans
  • Mammals / physiology*
  • Memory / physiology
  • Nervous System Diseases / physiopathology
  • Neural Pathways / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology
  • Proteomics
  • Synapses / chemistry*
  • Synapses / classification
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission