Injury-induced remodelling and regeneration of the ribbon presynaptic terminal in vitro

Michele Nachman-Clewner, Ellen Townes-Anderson

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22 Scopus citations


The neuronal response to axonal injury may relate to the type of insult incurred. Recently, neuritic and presynaptic varicosity regeneration by isolated adult salamander photoreceptors was demonstrated. We have used this system to compare the rod photoreceptor response to two types of injury: denervation/detargeting, the removal of pre- and postsynaptic partners from the axon terminal, and axotomy the removal of the axon terminal itself. Cells were followed with time-lapse video microscopy for 24-48 h in culture and immunolabelled for SV2 or synaptophysin to identify synaptic vesicle-containing varicosities. Although all injured cells responded with regenerative growth, denervated/detargeted photoreceptors (i.e, neurons which retain their axon terminal) grew 80% more processes and fourfold more presynaptic varicosities than axotomized neurons. In cells which retained their original axon and terminal, varicosity formation generally began with axon retraction. Retraction was followed by elaboration of a lamellipodium and, by 48 h, development of varicosity-bearing neurites from the lamellipodium. Synaptic vesicle protein localization in denervated/detargeted cells paralleled axon terminal reorganization. Axotomized cells, in contrast, lacked synaptic vesicle protein immunoreactivity during this period. To detect synaptic protein synthesis, photoreceptors were examined for colocalization of synaptic vesicle protein with rab6, a Golgi marker, by confocal microscopy. As expected, synaptic vesicle protein staining was present in the Golgi complex during regeneration; however, in. cells with an axon, new synaptic vesicle protein-labelled varicosities were found at early stages, prior to the appearance of immunolabel in the Golgi complex. The data demonstrate remarkable plasticity in the ribbon synapse, and suggest that in adult rod cells with an intact axon terminal, synaptic vesicle protein synthesis is not a prerequisite for the formation of new presynaptic-like terminals. We propose that preexisting axonal components are reutilized to expedite presynaptic renewal as an early response to denervation/detargeting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)597-613
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Neurocytology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Anatomy
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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