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De-Miguel, FF; DRAPEAU, P (1995)


J NEUROBIOL 27(3):367-379
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Identified leech neurons in culture are providing novel insights to the signals underlying synapse formation and function. Identified neurons from the central nervous system of the leech can be removed individually and plated in culture, where they retain their characteristic physiological properties, grow neurites, and form specific synapses that are directly accessible by a variety of approaches. Synapses between cultured neurons can be chemical or electrical (either rectifying or not) or may not form, depending on the neuronal identities. Furthermore, the characteristics of these synapses depend on the regions of the cells that come into contact. The formation and physiology of synapses between the Retzius cell and its partners have been well characterized. Retzius cells form purely chemical, inhibitory synapses with pressure-sensitive (P) cells where serotonin (5-HT) is the transmitter. Retzius cells synthesize 5-HT, which is stored in vesicles that recycle after 5-HT is secreted on stimulation. The release of 5-HT is quantal, calcium-dependent, and shows activity-dependent facilitation and depression. Anterograde and retrograde signals during synapse formation modify calcium currents, responses to 5-HT, and neurite outgrowth. The nature of these synaptogenic signals is being elucidated. For example, contact specifically with Retzius cells induces a localized selection of transmitter responses in postsynaptic P cells. This effect is signaled by tyrosine phosphorylation prior to synapse formation. (C) 1995 John Wiley and Sons, Inc.