Stages of synapse development defined by dependence on F-actin.
The ultrastructure of synaptic junctions in whole brain tissue and isolated synaptic membranes has been compared. Type 1 junctions are present in the isolated membranes,readily identified by the presence of dense-staining material associated with the postsynaptic membrane, but the dense projections present at the presynaptic membrane in intact tissue are absent. Type 2 junctions are not easily recognized because of the absence of prominent junctional densities, but apposed membranes with the appearance of type 2 junctions are seen in isolated membrane preparations. Junctions without dense-staining material are also seen among SYNAPtosomes and survive the hypotonic conditions used during isolation of the membranes. It thus seems probable that both type 1 and 2 junctions are present in isolated synaptic membrane preparations. In type 1 junctions after isolation,the postsynaptic thickening and cleft substance are together seen to be composed of an array of 200 A dense-staining subunits spanning the postsynaptic unit membrane. The relationship of this structure to the ultrastructure of the cleft substance and postsynapticthickening in intact tissue is discussed.