The emergence of new imaging techniques and molecular tools has refreshed our understanding of the principles of synaptic transmission and plasticity. Superresolution imaging and biosensors for measuring enzymatic activities in live neurons or neurotransmitter levels in the synaptic cleft are giving us an unprecedented integrated and nanoscale view on synaptic function. Excitatory synapses are now conceptualized as organized in subdomains, enriched with specific scaffolding proteins and glutamate receptors, molecularly organized with respect to the pre-synaptic source of glutamate. This new vision of basic synaptic transmission changes our understanding of the molecular modifications which sustain synaptic plasticities. Long-term potentiation can no longer be explained simply by an increase in receptor content at the synapse. We review here the latest data on the role of nanoscale and dynamic organization of AMPA type glutamate receptors on synaptic transmission at both basal state and during short and long-term plasticities.
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