Pre- and post-synaptic structures in insect CNS: Intramembranous features and sites of α-bungarotoxin binding

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The central neuropile of thoracic ganglia in the central nervous system (CNS) of the cockroach Periplaneta americana contains synapses with characteristic pre- and post-synaptic membrane specializations and associated structures. These include dense pre-synaptic T-bars surrounded by synaptic vesicles, together with post-synaptic densities of varying electron opacity. Exocytotic release of synaptic vesicles is observed only rarely near presynaptic densities, but coated pits are seen at variable distances from them, and may be involved in membrane retrieval. After freeze-fracture, paralinear arrays of intramembranous particles (IMPs) are detected on the P face of many presynaptic terminals, with associated dimples indicative of vesicular release. The E face of these membranes exhibits protuberances complementary to the P face dimples, as well as scattered larger IMPs. Post-synaptic membranes possess dense IMP aggregates on the P face, some of which may represent receptor molecules. Electrophysiological studies with biotinylated α-bungarotoxin reveal that biotinylation does not inhibit the pharmacological effectiveness of the toxin in blocking acetylcholine receptors on an identified motoneurone in the metathoracic ganglion. Preliminary thin section ultrastructural analysis of this tissue post-treated with avidin-HRP or avidin-ferritin indicates that α-bungarotoxin-binding sites are localized at certain synapses in these insect thoracic ganglia. © 1983.

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Tissue and Cell