Synaptome mapping of glutamatergic synapses across the mouse brain
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Synapses are specialised contacts between neurons. At postsynaptic terminals of glutamatergic synapses, protein complexes process and transmit the information received from the presynaptic terminal. Scaffolding proteins, among which members of the disc large homologue (DLG) family are the most abundant, assemble the molecular machinery in the postsynaptic terminal. Recently, two members of the DLG family, postsynaptic density protein 95 (PSD95) and synapse associated protein 102 (SAP102), have been shown to form different types of complexes, thus giving the synapse different signalling capabilities. However, the spatial distribution of these synaptic markers in different synapses remains elusive due to technical challenges. This thesis presents the first applications of a new method, the Genes to Cognition Synaptome Mapping pipeline (G2CSynMapp), to map individual synapses at the whole-brain level, in a quantitative and unbiased manner. This method was used to generate PSD95 and SAP102 synaptome maps – i.e. comprehensive maps of PSD95 and SAP102 positive synapses – in the mouse brain and to achieve three aims: i) characterise PSD95 and SAP102 synapse diversity, ii) measure the trajectory of PSD95 and SAP102 synapse changes during the postnatal lifespan and iii) determine whether PSD95 synaptome is reorganised by mutation. First, I have used G2CSynMapp to generate the first synaptome maps in the adult mouse brain. This reference map of PSD95 and SAP102 positive synapses revealed a highly organised distribution pattern of glutamatergic synapses between anatomical regions. Moreover, it uncovered that synapse populations are very diverse within anatomical regions and can form patches, gradients and input-specific glomeruli. Second, the trajectories of PSD95 and SAP102 synaptomes were mapped across the mouse postnatal lifespan. At birth, synapse densities are low and increase rapidly during the first month of life. During ageing, the density of SAP102 and PSD95 positive synapses decrease gradually. Interestingly, different anatomical regions show different trajectories of synapse density and parameters across the lifespan. Moreover, the packing of PSD95 and SAP102 at synapses have specific pattern of changes. Third, the PSD95 synaptome was found to be reorganised differently in two disease models, PSD93 and SAP102 knock-out mice. In humans, mutations in the genes encoding PSD93 or SAP102 have been involved in schizophrenia and mental retardation, respectively. Of particular interest, opposite changes were identified in the neocortex of the two mutant lines that are reminiscent of their inverse behavioural phenotypes.