Morphological examination of the relationship between astrocyte-like glia and neuronal synapses in Drosophila
AffiliationUniversity of Arizona Department of Neuroscience
Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science
HHMI Janelia Research Campus
Institute of Neuroinformatics, Zurich, Switzerland
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Collection InformationThis item is part of the GPSC Student Showcase collection. For more information about the Student Showcase, please email the GPSC (Graduate and Professional Student Council) at email@example.com.
AbstractThe nervous system is composed of two types of cells: neurons and glia. In neuronal circuits, neurons communicate through synapses and glia play a crucial modulatory role. To modulate chemical reuptake, glia send processes close to synapses and many glia directly appose or ensheathe a synapse. This structural motif is one of the elements often included in describing a vertebrate tripartite synapse, which includes a bidirectional functional neuron-glia relationship. The exact nature of this neuron-glia communication is not well understood. In the invertebrate fruit fly, we have also found that particular neurons and glia also have a bidirectional functional relationship. This allows us to ask new questions about glial morphology. Throughout multiple images, I identified particular neuronal synapses and surrounding glia. After creating a 3D reconstruction, I measured the distance between a particular neuronal synapse and its closest glial process. Interestingly, the neuronal synapses were not directly apposed or ensheathed by glia, and the distance to the closest glial process varied one-hundred-fold. With variable distance, functional communication is consistently present. These findings provide important insight into invertebrate neuron-glia communication, and offer new avenues to investigate the structural neuron-glia relationships that are required for reciprocal signaling between the two cell classes.
DescriptionPoster exhibited at GPSC Student Showcase, February 24th, 2016, University of Arizona. Recipient of the 2016 Katheryne B. Willock Library Research Award.
SponsorsThe Microscopy Society of America Undergraduate Research Scholarship
NSCS Summer Research Program
Van de Verde Undergraduate Research Scholarship in Science
NSF Graduate Research Fellowship
Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Research Campus
National Science Foundation Grant (IOS-1353739)