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Synaptic Vesicles: Membrane-bound compartments which contain transmitter molecules. Synaptic vesicles are concentrated at presynaptic terminals. They actively sequester transmitter molecules from the cytoplasm. In at least some synapses, transmitter release occurs by fusion of these vesicles with the presynaptic membrane, followed by exocytosis of their contents.

Synaptic Signaling

JoVE 10717

Neurons communicate at synapses, or junctions, to excite or inhibit the activity of other neurons or target cells, such as muscles. Synapses may be chemical or electrical.

Most synapses are chemical. That means that an electrical impulse—or action potential—spurs the release of chemical messengers. These chemical messengers are also called neurotransmitters. The neuron sending the signal is called the presynaptic neuron. The neuron receiving the signal is the postsynaptic neuron. The presynaptic neuron fires an action potential that travels through its axon. The end of the axon, or axon terminal, contains neurotransmitter-filled vesicles. The action potential opens voltage-gated calcium ion channels in the axon terminal membrane. Ca2+ rapidly enters the presynaptic cell (due to the higher external Ca2+ concentration), enabling the vesicles to fuse with the terminal membrane and release neurotransmitters. The space between presynaptic and postsynaptic cells is called the synaptic cleft. Neurotransmitters released from the presynaptic cell rapidly populate the synaptic cleft and bind to receptors on the postsynaptic neuron. The binding of neurotransmitters instigates chemical changes in the postsynaptic neuron, such as opening or closing ion channels. This, in turn, alters the membrane potential of the postsynapti

 Core: Cell Signaling

The Neuromuscular Junction: Measuring Synapse Size, Fragmentation and Changes in Synaptic Protein Density Using Confocal Fluorescence Microscopy

1Physiology and Bosch Institute, University of Sydney, 2Motor Neuron Disease Research Group, Australian School of Advanced Medicine, Macquarie University, 3Advanced Microscopy Facility, Bosch Institute, University of Sydney

JoVE 52220

 Neuroscience

Neuron Structure

JoVE 10842

Neurons are the main type of cell in the nervous system that generate and transmit electrochemical signals. They primarily communicate with each other using neurotransmitters at specific junctions called synapses. Neurons come in many shapes that often relate to their function, but most share three main structures: an axon and dendrites that extend out from a cell body.

The neuronal cell body—the soma— houses the nucleus and organelles vital to cellular function. Extending from the cell body are thin structures that are specialized for receiving and sending signals. Dendrites typically receive signals while the axon passes on the signals to other cells, such as other neurons or muscle cells. The point at which a neuron makes a connection to another cell is called a synapse. Neurons receive inputs primarily at postsynaptic terminals, which are frequently located on spines—small bumps protruding from the dendrites. These specialized structures contain receptors for neurotransmitters and other chemical signals. Dendrites are often highly branched, allowing some neurons to receive tens of thousands of inputs. Neurons most commonly receive signals at their dendrites, but they can also have synapses in other areas, such as the cell body. The signal received at the synapses travels down the dendrite to the soma, where the cell can proce

 Core: Nervous System

Calcium Imaging in Neurons

JoVE 5203

Calcium ions play an integral role in neuron function: They act as intracellular signals that can elicit responses such as altered gene expression and neurotransmitter release from synaptic vesicles. Within the cell, calcium concentration is highly dynamic due to the presence of pumps that selectively transport these ions in response to a variety of signals. Calcium…

 Neuroscience

Hair Cells

JoVE 10854

Hair cells are the sensory receptors of the auditory system—they transduce mechanical sound waves into electrical energy that the nervous system can understand. Hair cells are located in the organ of Corti within the cochlea of the inner ear, between the basilar and tectorial membranes. The actual sensory receptors are called inner hair cells. The outer hair cells serve other functions, such as sound amplification in the cochlea, and are not discussed in detail here. Hair cells are named after the hair-like stereocilia that protrude from their tops and touch the tectorial membrane. The stereocilia are arranged by height and are attached by thin filaments called tip links. The tip links are connected to stretch-activated cation channels on the tips of the stereocilia. When a sound wave vibrates the basilar membrane, it creates a shearing force between the basilar and tectorial membranes that moves the hair cell stereocilia from side to side. When the cilia are displaced towards the tallest cilium, the tip links stretch, opening the cation channels. Potassium (K+) then flows into the cell, because there is a very high concentration of K+ in the fluid outside of the stereocilia. This large voltage difference creates an electrochemical gradient that causes an influx of K+ once the channels are opened. This influx o

 Core: Sensory Systems

TIRFM and pH-sensitive GFP-probes to Evaluate Neurotransmitter Vesicle Dynamics in SH-SY5Y Neuroblastoma Cells: Cell Imaging and Data Analysis

1Department of Pharmacological and Biomolecular Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, 2San Raffaele Scientific Institute and Vita-Salute University, 3CEND Center of Excellence in Neurodegenerative Diseases, Università degli Studi di Milano

JoVE 52267

 Neuroscience

SNARE-mediated Fusion of Single Proteoliposomes with Tethered Supported Bilayers in a Microfluidic Flow Cell Monitored by Polarized TIRF Microscopy

1Department of Cellular and Molecular Physiology, Yale University School of Medicine, 2Nanobiology Institute, Yale University, 3Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, 4Laboratoire de Neurophotonique, Université Paris Descartes, Faculté des Sciences Fondamentales et Biomédicales, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)

JoVE 54349

 Neuroscience

An Unbiased Approach of Sampling TEM Sections in Neuroscience

1Department of Cell Biology, Histology and Embryology, Gottfried Schatz Research Center, Medical University of Graz, 2Department of Pharmacology, Otto Loewi Research Center, Medical University of Graz, 3Division of General Neurology, Department of Neurology, Medical University of Graz, 4Institute of Pathology, Medical University of Graz, 5Department of Pathology, Medical Faculty, Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg

JoVE 58745

 Neuroscience

Assessment of Dopaminergic Homeostasis in Mice by Use of High-performance Liquid Chromatography Analysis and Synaptosomal Dopamine Uptake

1Molecular Neuropharmacology and Genetics Laboratory, Lundbeck Foundation Center for Biomembranes in Nanomedicine, Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, 2Laboratory of Neuropsychiatry, Psychiatric Center Copenhagen and Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen

JoVE 56093

 Neuroscience

In Vitro SUMOylation Assay to Study SUMO E3 Ligase Activity

1Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, National Yang-Ming University, 2UC Davis Cancer Center, University of California, Davis, 3Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine, University of California, Davis, 4Institute for Translational Medicine, College of Medical Science and Technology, Taipei Medical University, 5Division of Molecular and Genomic Medicine, National Health Research Institutes, 6Center for Infectious Disease and Cancer Research, Kaohsiung Medical University

JoVE 56629

 Biology

Analyzing Synaptic Modulation of Drosophila melanogaster Photoreceptors after Exposure to Prolonged Light

1Department of Neuroscience of Disease, Center for Transdisciplinary Research, Niigata University, 2Brain Research Institute, Niigata University, 3Image and Data Analysis Facility, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), 4Graduate School of Life Science and Technology, Tokyo Institute of Technology (Titech), 5Dendrite Differentiation, German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE)

JoVE 55176

 Neuroscience

In Vivo Single-Molecule Tracking at the Drosophila Presynaptic Motor Nerve Terminal

1Clem Jones Centre for Ageing Dementia Research, Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland, 2VIB Centre for Brain and Disease Research, KU Leuven Department of Neurosciences, Leuven Institute for Neurodegenerative Disease (LIND), 3Queensland Brain Institute, The University of Queensland

JoVE 56952

 Neuroscience

Brain Membrane Fractionation: An Ex Vivo Approach to Assess Subsynaptic Protein Localization

1Unitat de Farmacologia, Departament Patologia i Terapèutica Experimental, Facultat de Medicina, IDIBELL, Universitat de Barcelona, L'Hospitalet de Llobregat, 2Institut de Neurociències, Universitat de Barcelona, 3Center for Neurosciences of Coimbra, Institute of Biochemistry, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra

JoVE 55661

 Biochemistry

Using Microfluidics Chips for Live Imaging and Study of Injury Responses in Drosophila Larvae

1Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, 2Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of Michigan, 3Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, 4Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan, 5Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Michigan

JoVE 50998

 Bioengineering
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