Dictionary > Synapse


noun, plural: synapses
A specialized structure or junction that allows cell to cell communication.
(1) To form a synapse.
(2) To undergo synapsis.
A biological synapse involving neurons can be:
(1) Chemical synapse : the junction between neurons such that the nerve impulse is transmitted from a neuron to another neuron or to a muscle cell or gland cell.
(2) Electrical synapse : the gap junction between two apposed neurons that allows faster nerve transmission.
Recently, a biological synapse not involving a neuron is found to exist. The junction between a lymphocyte and an antigen-presenting cell is referred to as immunological synapse.
Word origin: from “synaptein”, which Sir Charles Scott Sherrington and colleagues coined from the Greek “syn-” (“together”) and “haptein” (“to clasp”).

Related forms: synaptic (adjective).
Related terms:

  • Excitatory synapse
  • Inhibitory synapse
  • Chemical synapse
  • Electrical synapse
  • Immunological synapse
  • Ribbon synapse

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