Opera Medica et Physiologica

Exploring Nanoscale Organisation of Synapses with Super-Resolution Microscopy

Author Affiliations

Janosch P Heller1 *, Kohtaroh Sugao1,3 and Dmitri A Rusakov1,2

1 UCL Institute of Neurology, University College London, Queen Square, London WC1N 3BG, United Kingdom;
2 Laboratory of Brain Microcircuits, Institute of Biology and Biomedicine, University of Nizhny Novgorod, Nizhny Novgorod, Russia;
3 Molecular Pathophysiology Research, Drug Research Division, Sumitomo Dainippon Pharma Co., Ltd., Osaka, Japan.

Corresponding author: 

Dmitri A Rusakov (d.rusakov@ucl.ac.uk )   Janosch P Heller (j.heller@ucl.ac.uk)


The rapid advance of super-resolution microscopy and its experimental applications has provided neuroscientists with a pass to the nanoscopic world of synaptic machinery. Here we will briefly overview and discuss current progress in our understanding of the three-dimensional synaptic architecture and molecular organisation as gleaned from the imaging methods that go beyond the diffraction limit of conventional light microscopy. We will argue that such methods are to take our knowledge of synapses to a qualitatively new level, providing the neuroscience research community with novel organising principles and concepts pertinent to the workings of the brain.