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Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2011 Feb;21(1):175-81. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2010.08.013. Epub 2010 Sep 9.

The dynamic cytoskeleton: backbone of dendritic spine plasticity.

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  • 1Neuroscience Training Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1300 University Avenue, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Dendritic spines are small actin-rich protrusions on the surface of dendrites whose morphological and molecular plasticity play key roles in learning and memory. Both the form and function of spines are critically dependent on the actin cytoskeleton. However, new research, using electron microscopy and live-cell super-resolution microscopy indicates that the actin cytoskeleton is more complex and dynamic than originally thought. Also, exciting recent studies from several labs indicate that microtubules, once thought to be restricted to the dendrite shaft, can make excursions into the most distal regions of dendritic spines. Moreover, microtubule invasions of spines appear to be associated with changes in synaptic activity. Thus, it is likely that dynamic interactions between microtubules and actin filaments within dendritic spines play important roles in dendritic spine plasticity.

Copyright © 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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