The morphology and molecular composition of synapses provide the basis of communication between neurons. Synapses are highly ordered, having developed structural and molecular specializations at their pre- and postsynaptic sites. At excitatory synapses, presynaptic sites of communication are faithfully juxtaposed to the postsynaptic density (PSD), an organized micro-compartment housed beneath the postsynaptic membrane. This largely invariant association suggests that the PSD is tightly coupled to synaptic function, allowing the pre-and postsynapse to form a cohesive unit. The PSD comprises several hundred proteins, including receptors, cytoskeletal, scaffolding, and signal transduction components. The organization of the PSD plays a central role in linking the molecular machinery responsible for neurotransmission to synaptic plasticity. This chapter details the structural organization of the PSD, with a particular emphasis on how its molecular constituents influence the structure and function of glutamatergic synapses.
Keywords: postsynaptic density; PSD; synaptic plasticity; scaffold protein; signal transduction; neurotransmission; glutamatergic synapse
Chapter. 17443 words. Illustrated.
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