“The effects in the cell are not just short-term – some can be long-term,” added the study’s lead author.
“It is like a new dock on a cell that gives express access to chromatin changes, and that is very important because chromatin changes so many aspects of the cell.”
TO synapse is a junction between two nerve cells that consists of a small gap through which impulses pass via neurotransmitter diffusion.
Synapses between one neuron’s axon and the dendrites of other neurons are generally known to exist, but none have ever been seen between a neuron’s axon (nerve fiber) and the primary cilium, microtubule-based cellular organelles that protrude from the surface of cells.
The researchers were able to peek deeply inside the cell and cilia using Janelia’s high-resolution microscopes and cutting-edge equipment to study the synapse, the cell’s internal signaling cascade, and alterations in the nucleus.
This discovery may advance our understanding of cell communication
The identification of the ciliary synapse may advance our knowledge of how cells communicate long-term changes.
According to Clapham, the cilia, which project from the inside of the cell, close to the nucleus, to the exterior, may offer a quicker and more focused method for cells to carry out these long-term alterations.
“This was all about seeing – and Janelia enables us to see like we couldn’t see before,” said Clapham.
“It opens up a lot of possibilities we hadn’t thought of.”
It was unknown why neurons and other cells in our body continued to protrude into adulthood with this hair-like, bacterium-sized structure. Due to the fact that these cilia were challenging to see using conventional imaging methods, scientists have generally overlooked them.
However, more recent advancements in imaging technology have generated interest in these tiny extensions.