The mammalian central nervous synaptic cleft contains a high density of periodically organized complexes.

Zuber, Benoît; Nikonenko, Irina; Klauser, Paul; Muller, Dominique; Dubochet, Jacques (2005). The mammalian central nervous synaptic cleft contains a high density of periodically organized complexes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America - PNAS, 102(52), pp. 19192-19197. National Academy of Sciences NAS 10.1073/pnas.0509527102

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Cryo-electron microscopy of vitreous section makes it possible to observe cells and tissues at high resolution in a close-to-native state. The specimen remains hydrated; chemical fixation and staining are fully avoided. There is minimal molecular aggregation and the density observed in the image corresponds to the density in the object. Accordingly, organotypic hippocampal rat slices were vitrified under high pressure and controlled cryoprotection conditions, cryosectioned at a final thickness of approximately 70 nm and observed below -170 degrees C in a transmission electron microscope. The general aspect of the tissue compares with previous electron microscopy observations. The detailed analysis of the synapse reveals that the density of material in the synaptic cleft is high, even higher than in the cytoplasm, and that it is organized in 8.2-nm periodic transcleft complexes. Previously undescribed structures of presynaptic and postsynaptic elements are also described.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Anatomy

UniBE Contributor:

Zuber, Benoît


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




National Academy of Sciences NAS




Benoît Zuber

Date Deposited:

28 Jan 2016 15:24

Last Modified:

28 Jan 2016 15:24

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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