It is well established that the active properties of nerve and muscle cells are stabilized by homeostatic signaling systems. In organisms ranging from Drosophila to humans, neurons restore baseline function in the continued presence of destabilizing perturbations by rebalancing ion channel expression, modifying neurotransmitter receptor surface expression and trafficking, and modulating neurotransmitter release. This review focuses on the homeostatic modulation of presynaptic neurotransmitter release, termed presynaptic homeostasis. First, we highlight criteria that can be used to define a process as being under homeostatic control. Next, we review the remarkable conservation of presynaptic homeostasis at the Drosophila, mouse, and human neuromuscular junctions and emerging parallels at synaptic connections in the mammalian central nervous system. We then highlight recent progress identifying cellular and molecular mechanisms. We conclude by reviewing emerging parallels between the mechanisms of homeostatic signaling and genetic links to neurological disease.
Keywords: autism; epilepsy; homeostatic plasticity; myasthenia gravis; neuromuscular junction; synapse.