3D reconstruction of the "calyx of Held"

2 May 2011

The calyx of Held is one of the biggest nerve terminals in the central nervous system (named by Hans Held in 1893 because of its flower petal like shape). The unique structure of this synapse makes it possible for communication between neurons to proceed efficiently, quickly, and reliably, and this means that information moves more quickly and accurately through the nervous system.

This movie shows a detailed 3D reconstructed image of a cultured giant calyx preparation. The imaging was created using immunofluorescence  methods in which scientists introduce fluorescent molecules into the cells to attach to specific proteins and make them visible in microscope. These techniques have made certain parts of the synapse distinctly visible, and the movie was processed to make these distinct parts appear in different colors: Synaptophysin is imaged as silver, VGLUT1 is imaged as gold, and the nuclei of the postsynaptic neuron and two adjacent cells are imaged as blue.

The detail in this 3D image greatly increases our understanding of this important synapse and of synaptic transmission in general.

Movie by Dimitar Dimitrov, Laurent Guillaud, and Tomoyuki Takahashi of the Cellular and Molecular Synaptic Function Unit, Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST).
To learn more about the Cellular and Molecular Synaptic Function Unit, visit www.oist.jp

Free for anyone to re-use, but must be credited to OIST.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic License.

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