Postsynaptic Density Assembly Is Fundamentally Different from Presynaptic Active Zone Assembly

Tal Bresler, Mika Shapira, Tobias Boeckers, Thomas Dresbach, Marie Futter, Craig C. Garner, Kobi Rosenblum, Eckart D. Gundelfinger, Noam E. Ziv

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cellular mechanisms involved in the formation of the glutamatergic postsynaptic density (PSD) are mainly unknown. Previous studies have indicated that PSD assembly may occur in situ by a gradual recruitment of postsynaptic molecules, whereas others have suggested that the PSD may be assembled from modular transport packets assembled elsewhere. Here we used cultured hippocampal neurons and live cell imaging to examine the process by which PSD molecules from different layers of the PSD are recruited to nascent postsynaptic sites. GFP-tagged NR1, the essential subunit of the NMDA receptor, and ProSAP1/Shank2 and ProSAP2/Shank3, scaffolding molecules thought to reside at deeper layers of the PSD, were recruited to new synaptic sites in gradual manner, with no obvious involvement of discernible discrete transport particles. The recruitment kinetics of these three PSD molecules were remarkably similar, which may indicate that PSD assembly rate is governed by a common upstream rate-limiting process. In contrast, the presynaptic active zone (AZ) molecule Bassoon was observed to be recruited to new presynaptic sites by means of a small number of mobile packets, in full agreement with previous studies. These findings indicate that the assembly processes of PSDs and AZs may be fundamentally different.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1507-1520
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number6
StatePublished - 11 Feb 2004


  • Bassoon
  • NMDA
  • Postsynaptic
  • Presynaptic
  • ProSAP
  • Synaptogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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