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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A October 27, 2015; 112 (43): 13366-71.

SPARC triggers a cell-autonomous program of synapse elimination.

López-Murcia FJ , Terni B , Llobet A .

Elimination of the excess synaptic contacts established in the early stages of neuronal development is required to refine the function of neuronal circuits. Here we investigate whether secreted protein acidic and rich in cysteine (SPARC), a molecule produced by glial cells, is involved in synapse removal. SPARC production peaks when innervation of the rat superior cervical ganglion and the tail of Xenopus tropicalis tadpoles are remodeled. The formation of new cholinergic synapses in autaptic single-cell microcultures is inhibited by SPARC. The effect resides in the C-terminal domain, which is also responsible for triggering a concentration- and time-dependent disassembly of stable cholinergic synapses. The loss of synaptic contacts is associated with the formation of retracted axon terminals containing multivesicular bodies and secondary lysosomes. The biological relevance of in vitro results was supported by injecting the tail of Xenopus tropicalis tadpoles with peptide 4.2, a 20-aa sequence derived from SPARC that mimics full-length protein effects. Swimming was severely impaired at ∼5 h after peptide application, caused by the massive elimination of neuromuscular junctions and pruning of axonal branches. Effects revert by 6 d after injection, as motor innervation reforms. In conclusion, SPARC triggers a cell-autonomous program of synapse elimination in cholinergic neurons that likely occurs when protein production peaks during normal development.

PubMed ID: 26420865
PMC ID: PMC4629317
Article link: Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Species referenced: Xenopus
Genes referenced: sparc syp tff3.7 tuba4b vamp2
Antibodies: Syp Ab2 Tuba4b Ab4

Article Images: [+] show captions
References [+] :
Aguayo, Neonatal neuronal loss in rat superior cervical ganglia: retrograde effects on developing preganglionic axons and Schwann cells. 1976, Pubmed