Lamanna, J., Ferro, M., Cocucci, E. (2023) Editorial: Recent advances in measuring and controlling synaptic communication 2023 – Front. Cell. Neurosci., 21 September 2023 – Volume 17 – 2023 – 1289874


Synapses represent a unique neuronal compartment specialized in communication. The morpho-functional investigation of the synapse has always been hindered by its tiny size and high density of molecular elements, but specific technological and methodological advances helped us to reduce these limitations. As the matter of fact, in recent years, we have witnessed the continuous development of new methods allowing measuring and controlling synaptic activation both in vitro and in vivo (Lamanna et al., 2022). These include new genetically encoded sensors of synaptic exo-endocytosis (Ferro et al., 2017Liu et al., 2021) and neurotransmitter release (Helassa et al., 2018Patriarchi et al., 2018), but also engineered synaptic proteins able to control synaptic transmission (Won et al., 2021). Furthermore, new promising tools allow changing the functional properties of synapses in a plasticity-like manner (Goto et al., 2021).

All these methodological advances are likely to generate unprecedented knowledge about the dynamics of synaptic transmission and plasticity at several levels of the nervous system. Nevertheless, in most cases, the implementation of these new methods remains technically demanding, likely due to the high complexity of their operating principle (Glasgow et al., 2019Lamanna et al., 2022). Hence, it would be worth refining and potentiating these tools to extend the range of experimental settings for their application. In addition, more classical and established approaches, such as electrophysiology, computational modeling and ultrastructural imaging, can be further implemented, e.g., by using alternative tools (Zhang et al., 2023) or advanced analysis approaches (Soares et al., 2019), to gather deeper insights into the physiology of neurotransmission.

In this Research Topic, we collected studies that validate, refine, or apply in an effective way advanced tools and approaches with the aim to investigate synaptic communication.