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.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Neuroscience (all)