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).
- Excitatory synapse
- Inhibitory synapse
- Chemical synapse
- Electrical synapse
- Immunological synapse
- Ribbon synapse