Invagination of Presynaptic Ribbons in the Fly's Optic Lobe Following Loss of their Target Neuron
In the first optic neuropile of the housefly Musca, photoreceptor terminals innervate fixed clusters of interneurons, one of which is the monopolar cell L2; L2's synapses in turn feed back upon the terminals. We examined the ultrastructure of these feedback synapses following degeneration of their normal targets, the receptor terminals; this was accomplished by photo-ablating the receptor cells after intraretinal injections of sulforhodamine. Even when all the terminals degenerated, their deafferentated target cells, including L2, remained structurally intact for at least 14 d. Despite this lack of obvious trans-synaptic degeneration, L2's synaptic connections did alter. Presynaptic organelles of the feedback synapses, synaptic ribbons and associated synaptic vesicles, soon appeared in L2's cytoplasm, separating from their site of attachment at the presynaptic membrane by invagination. Similar free-floating organelles and vesicles also occurred in another monopolar cell, L4. They were also occasionally encountered in L2, in normal, newly emerged flies at a time when a naturally occurring loss of feedback synapses is greatest. We interpret the process of internalization that forms these floating ribbons to be the first step in synaptic loss which occurs spontaneously, and that the rate is enhanced in L2 when its main synaptic targets, the receptor terminals, degenerate.
Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B
- Pub Date:
- July 1991