Structural Plasticity of Synaptopodin in the Axon Initial Segment during Visual Cortex Development

Cereb Cortex. 2017 Sep 1;27(9):4662-4675. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhx208.


The axon initial segment (AIS) is essential for action potential generation. Recently, the AIS was identified as a site of neuronal plasticity. A subpopulation of AIS in cortical principal neurons contains stacks of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) forming the cisternal organelle (CO). The function of this organelle is poorly understood, but roles in local Ca2+-trafficking and AIS plasticity are discussed. To investigate whether the presence and/or the size of COs are linked to the development and maturation of AIS of cortical neurons, we analyzed the relationship between COs and the AIS during visual cortex development under control and visual deprivation conditions. In wildtype mice, immunolabeling for synaptopodin, ankyrin-G, and ßIV-spectrin were employed to label COs and the AIS, respectively. Dark rearing resulted in an increase in synaptopodin cluster sizes, suggesting a homeostatic function of the CO in this cellular compartment. In line with this observation, synaptopodin-deficient mice lacking the CO showed AIS shortening in the dark. Collectively, these data demonstrate that the CO is an essential part of the AIS machinery required for AIS plasticity during a critical developmental period of the visual cortex.

Keywords: axon initial segment; cisternal organelle; sensory deprivation; synaptopodin; visual cortex.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Action Potentials / physiology
  • Animals
  • Axon Initial Segment / metabolism*
  • Axons / metabolism*
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microfilament Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurogenesis / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / physiology*
  • Visual Cortex / growth & development*
  • Visual Cortex / metabolism


  • Microfilament Proteins
  • Synpo protein, mouse