Synaptic plasticity is the dynamic regulation of the strength of synaptic communication between nerve cells. It is central to neuronal development as well as experience-dependent remodeling of the adult nervous system as occurs during memory formation. Aberrant forms of synaptic plasticity also accompany a variety of neurological and psychiatric diseases, and unraveling the biological basis of synaptic plasticity has been a major goal in neurobiology research. The biochemical and structural mechanisms underlying different forms of synaptic plasticity are complex, involving multiple signaling cascades, reconfigurations of structural proteins and the trafficking of synaptic proteins. As such, proteomics should be a valuable tool in dissecting the molecular events underlying normal and disease-related forms of plasticity. In fact, progress in this area has been disappointingly slow. We discuss the particular challenges associated with proteomic interrogation of synaptic plasticity processes and outline ways in which we believe proteomics may advance the field over the next few years. We pay particular attention to technical advances being made in small sample proteomics and the advent of proteomic imaging in studying brain plasticity.
- neuronal plasticity
- matrix-assisted laser desorption-ionization