MICROSCOPY Vol.46▶No.1 2011
â– Seto Award

Visualization Technologies of Neuronal Functions

Shigeo Okabe

Abstract: Neurons generate a tremendous number of synaptic connections to realize complex brain functions, such as cognition, learning, and motor control. Synapses are specialized cell-to-cell junctions and provide a structural basis for signal transduction between neurons. A variety of protein molecules, including membrane receptors, scaffolding proteins, and signal processing molecules, are known to accumulate at synapses and information about transport, incorporation and stabilization of these molecules is indispensable for the understanding of synaptic functions. Imaging of synapses in live neurons revealed the process of synapse formation and maturation, and also provided the evidences of dynamics molecular redistribution in response to synaptic activity. In this review, I will introduce recent findings related to the topic of synapse formation and remodeling with special emphasis on imaging of GFP-tagged synaptic molecules in living neurons.

Key words: Fluorescent protein, two-photon microscope, synapse, single molecule imaging