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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2000 Oct;10(5):582-6.

Dendritic spines shaped by synaptic activity.

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  • 1Department of Neurobiology, The Weizmann Institute, 76100, Rehovot, Israel.


A recent series of exciting observations, using novel high-resolution time-lapse imaging of living cells, has provoked a major shift in our understanding of the dendritic spine, from a stable storage site of long-term memory to a dynamic structure that undergoes rapid morphological variations. Through these recent observations, the molecular mechanisms underlying spine plasticity are beginning to emerge. A common mechanism involving changes in intracellular Ca(2+) concentration may control both the formation/elongation and the pruning/retraction of spines. Spine motility may be instrumental in the formation of synapses, may contribute to the anchoring/removing of glutamate receptors at spine heads, and may control the efficacy of existing synapses.

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