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Gap Junction Tilt Series


One of the important structures in how neural systems are connected are gap junctions.  Gap junctions allow for current to flow directly between neurons and in fact, have historically been called electrical synapses.  They are important in all tissues, but from our perspective, they are critically important in how neural systems are wired into circuits.  As such, we spend quite a bit of time optimizing our workflows to be able to see them.

Below is an animated gif that shows a tilt series of a 90nm thick section being tilted in the electron microscope from -45 degrees to +45 degrees, showing the multi laminar structure of the gap junction in between two neurons.



Categories: Art of Science, Science, Ultrastructure.

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2 Responses

  1. Are there any synaptic connections that are purely electrical, or do all synapses also have chemical communicating capabilities?

    A second question would be as follows. What percentage of synaptic connections are able to communicate by electrical means. This question would include those that communicate by both methods.

    Bill McClymondsDecember 25, 2016 @ 1:37 pmReply
    • Yes, indeed. Gap junctions are electrical synapses.

      The next question is a harder one to follow up as nobody has performed a proper ultrastructural analysis of synapse size and differences across cell classes.

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