Image of the Day: Electrify

Researchers have identified what makes synapses strong or weak in fruit flies.

Sukanya Charuchandra
Aug 9, 2018
Calcium channels open when neurons are activated in a fruit fly.

Researchers studied synapses that form between muscle cells and motor neurons in fruit flies to identify the properties of strong synapses that are more likely to release neurotransmitters. In results published July 10 in eLife, they propose that weaker synapses have fewer calcium channels, which are needed to propagate signals along neurons. Besides the number of calcium channels, different kinds of receptor proteins, which help neurons respond to neurotransmitters,  also make neurons more or less likely to fire. 

Y. Akbergenova et al., “Characterization of developmental and molecular factors underlying release heterogeneity at Drosophila synapses,” eLife, doi:10.7554/eLife.38268.002, 2018.