Editors' ChoiceNeuroscience

Limiting Potential

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Sci. Signal.  17 Mar 2009:
Vol. 2, Issue 62, pp. ec97
DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.262ec97

Synapse formation is tightly controlled to achieve a specific size, shape, and number of synapses. Although recent advances have been made in discovering key molecules that are important for the initiation and maintenance of synaptic recruitment, negative regulators that restrict this aggregation to control the size and number of synapses are poorly understood. Patel and Shen have identified the evolutionarily conserved protein RSY-1 as a local inhibitor of synaptogenesis, controlling the number of presynaptic terminals and the amount of material recruited to presynaptic sites. RSY-1 inhibited synaptogenesis by antagonizing master assembly molecules essential for presynaptic development. This type of negative regulation is likely to be as important for synaptic regulation as the intensively studied mechanisms of positive regulation.

M. R. Patel, K. Shen, RSY-1 is a local inhibitor of presynaptic assembly in C. elegans. Science 323, 1500–1503 (2009). [Abstract] [Full Text]