Sizes of glutamatergic synapses vary tremendously, even when formed on the same neuron. This diversity is commonly thought to reflect the outcome of activity-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity, yet activity-independent processes might also play some part. Here we show that in neurons with no history of activity whatsoever, synaptic sizes are no less diverse. We show that this diversity is the product of activity-independent size fluctuations, which are sufficient to generate a full repertoire of synaptic sizes at correct proportions. By combining modeling and experimentation we expose reciprocal relationships between size fluctuations, synaptic sizes and synaptic counts, and show how these phenomena might be connected through the dynamics of synaptic molecules as they move in, out and between synapses.
Hazan L, Ziv NE (2020) Activity dependent and independent determinants of synaptic size diversity. J Neurosci [PubMed]