Synapses are the connection sites between nerve cells and their targets, either other nerve cells or effector cells such as muscle. The transfer of information across synapses, called synaptic transmission, is a tightly regulated process that can be modulated.

Keywords: active zone; synaptic vesicle; synaptic cleft; synaptic transmission; neurotransmitter; postsynaptic density; gap junction; calyx; neuromuscular junction

Further Reading

Burns ME and Augustine GJ (1995) Synaptic structure and function: dynamic organization yields architectural precision. Cell 83: 187–194.

Cowan WM, Südhof TC and Stevens CF (2001) Synapses. Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Fain GL (1999) Molecular and Cellular Physiology of Neurons. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Harlow ML, Ress D, Stoschek A, Marshall RM and McMahon UJ (2001) The architecture of active zone material at the frog's neuromuscular junction. Nature 409: 479–484.

Peters A, Palay SL and Webster HD (1991) The Fine Structure of the Nervous System. New York: Oxford University Press.

Schweizer FE, Betz H and Augustine GJ (1995) From vesicle docking to endocytosis: intermediate reactions of exocytosis. Neuron 14: 689–696.

Shepherd GM (1997) The Synaptic Organization of the Brain. New York: Oxford University Press.

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How to Cite close
Schweizer, Felix E(Apr 2001) Synapses. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0000207]