The nanoscale dynamics of proteins in the synaptic bouton
The laboratory of Prof. Silvio Rizzoli addressed this issue by measuring the mobility of 47 different proteins in the synaptic boutons and axons of living hippocampal neurons. The obtained results allowed the authors not to only analyze the connections between mobility and various protein parameters, as well as to understand the basic mechanisms regulating protein mobility and distribution within the synaptic boutons, but also to create the first realistic representation of overall protein motion in a cellular compartment. The animated illustration shows thousands of protein molecules moving within a synaptic bouton according to their realistic speeds measured in living cells, all represented in realistic sizes, shapes and copy numbers.
This study allows for further detailed research of synaptic function for laboratories specialized in neuronal and synaptic modeling, who may exploit the entire dataset by introducing all protein amounts and mobilities in multi-reaction models. In addition, the generated visualizations can become a valuable educational tool to demonstrate the dynamic organization of cells to general public.
A view of soluble protein movement in the synapse. Only synaptic vesicles (grey shapes) and soluble proteins are shown, the plasma membrane surrounding the synapse is transparent. Each colored shape is a single protein molecule, with the molecules of the same protein type having the same color and shape.