Role of Mitochondria on Synaptic Plasticity

Role of Mitochondria on Synaptic Plasticity

Mitochondria, intracellular organelles known for generating energy for cellular machinery, may also function as central modulators of synaptic plasticity. Previous publications have shown that mitochondria localization in dendritic arbors is dependent on synaptic activity (Li et al. 2004; Chang et al. 2006, MacAskill et al. 2009), and stimulation of NMDA receptors (NMDARs) with exogenous or synaptically-released glutamate leads to the stabilization of mitochondria at postsynaptic sites (MacAskill et al. 2009). Our lab is interested on the molecular regulation of mitochondrial proteins that regulate synaptic plasticity.
The Haas Lab has developed specific visual stimulation protocols consisted of different periods of light ON and OFF stimuli to induce plasticity or metaplasticity in the optic tectum of awake Xenopus laevis tadpoles (Dunfield and Haas, 2009, 2010; Chen et al. 2012). Using these experience-driven neuronal plasticity induction stimuli and two-photon time-lapse imaging of mitochondrial movement and dendritic arbor growth, and calcium imaging of neuronal activity of individual neurons in the intact and awake developing brain, we are looking at mitochondria localization and size in LTD and LTP neurons. Other imaging and molecular techniques are also being used to underline the specific mitochondria proteins that regulate synaptic plasticity