Dissecting tripartite synapses with STED microscopy

A. Panatier, M. Arizono, U. V. Nagerl
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. 2014-09-15; 369(1654): 20130597-20130597
DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0597

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1. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2014 Oct 19;369(1654):20130597. doi:

Dissecting tripartite synapses with STED microscopy.

Panatier A(1), Arizono M(2), Nägerl UV(3).

Author information:
(1)Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France Neurocentre Magendie, Inserm U862,
Bordeaux, France.
(2)Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France Interdisciplinary Institute for
Neuroscience, CNRS UMR 5297, Bordeaux, France Laboratory for Developmental
Neurobiology, Brain Science Institute, RIKEN, Wako, Japan.
(3)Université de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France Interdisciplinary Institute for
Neuroscience, CNRS UMR 5297, Bordeaux, France .

The concept of the tripartite synapse reflects the important role that astrocytic
processes are thought to play in the function and regulation of neuronal synapses
in the mammalian nervous system. However, many basic aspects regarding the
dynamic interplay between pre- and postsynaptic neuronal structures and their
astrocytic partners remain to be explored. A major experimental hurdle has been
the small physical size of the relevant glial and synaptic structures, leaving
them largely out of reach for conventional light microscopic approaches such as
confocal and two-photon microscopy. Hence, most of what we know about the
organization of the tripartite synapse is based on electron microscopy, which
does not lend itself to investigating dynamic events and which cannot be carried
out in parallel with functional assays. The development and application of
superresolution microscopy for neuron-glia research is opening up exciting
experimental opportunities in this regard. In this paper, we provide a basic
explanation of the theory and operation of stimulated emission depletion (STED)
microscopy, outlining the potential of this recent superresolution imaging
modality for advancing our understanding of the morpho-functional interactions
between astrocytes and neurons that regulate synaptic physiology.

© 2014 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

DOI: 10.1098/rstb.2013.0597
PMCID: PMC4173283
PMID: 25225091 [Indexed for MEDLINE]

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