Press Releases
Mar. 3, 2009

Bidirectional recognition for neuronal matchmaking

  • Hiroshi Kohsaka (Assistant professor, Department of Physics, University of Tokyo)
  • Akinao Nose (Professor, Department of Complexity Science and Engineering, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences The University of Tokyo / Professor, Department of Physics, University of Tokyo)


Figure. An image of a postsynaptic muscle cell during neural matchmaking. Target recognition molecule Capricious (green) accumulates at the tips of postsynaptic filopodia (arrows) of muscle (purple).

Precise connections between presynaptic neurons and their postsynaptic target cells are crucial for adequate function of the nervous system. The mechanism of how specific neural connections are formed in living animals is therefore one of the significant topics in neuroscience. A traditional view is one-sided: motile growth cones of the presynaptic neurons actively search for the target cell, whereas the target cells wait still to be selected by adequate partner neurons. Here we found that not only presynaptic neurons but also postsynaptic target cells actively search for their partners during the formation of neural network in the fruitfly Drosophila. Such bidirectional recognition might be critical for the development of precise neural connections not only in Drosophila but also in other animals including humans.