Understanding Selective Synapse Elimination

Science's STKE  21 Aug 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 400, pp. tw305
DOI: 10.1126/stke.4002007tw305

Synapse elimination is a hallmark of neural circuit maturation during development. Many synapses are eliminated after an initial phase of synapse formation. However, little is known about the molecular machinery that executes synaptic elimination or why certain synapses are selectively eliminated while other synapses persist and grow. Ding et al. (see the Perspective by Miller) examined synapse elimination in the nematode worm and found that a ubiquitin E3 ligase complex plays a key role. The activity of the ubiquitin-proteasome system was tightly regulated by a synaptic adhesion molecule, which protected certain synapses from selective elimination.

M. Ding, D. Chao, G. Wang, K. Shen, Spatial regulation of an E3 ubiquitin ligase directs selective synapse elimination. Science 317, 947-951 (2007). [Abstract] [Full Text]

D. M. Miller, Synapses here and not everywhere. Science 317, 907-908 (2007). [Summary] [Full Text]