Synaptic plasticity is a cellular model for learning and memory. However, the expression mechanisms underlying presynaptic forms of plasticity are not well understood. Here, we investigate functional and structural correlates of long-term potentiation at large hippocampal mossy fiber boutons induced by the adenylyl cyclase activator forskolin. We performed two-photon imaging of the genetically encoded glutamate sensor iGlu u that revealed an increase in the surface area used for glutamate release at potentiated terminals. Moreover, time-gated stimulated emission depletion microscopy revealed no change in the coupling distance between immunofluorescence signals from calcium channels and release sites. Finally, by high-pressure freezing and transmission electron microscopy analysis, we found a fast remodeling of synaptic ultrastructure at potentiated boutons : synaptic vesicles dispersed in the terminal and accumulated at the active zones, while active zone density and synaptic complexity increased. We suggest that these rapid and early structural rearrangements likely enable long-term increase in synaptic strength.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience