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J Comp Neurol. 2000 Mar 6;418(2):164-81.

Actin-associated protein synaptopodin in the rat hippocampal formation: localization in the spine neck and close association with the spine apparatus of principal neurons.

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Institute of Anatomy, University of Freiburg, Germany.


Dendritic spines are sites of synaptic plasticity in the brain and are capable of remodeling their shape and size. However, little is known about the cellular mechanisms that regulate spine morphology and motility. Synaptopodin is a recently described actin-associated protein found in renal podocytes and dendritic spines (Mundel et al. J Cell Biol. [1997] 139:193-204), which is believed to play a role in spine plasticity. The present study analyzed the distribution of synaptopodin in the hippocampal formation. In situ hybridization histochemistry revealed a high constitutive expression of synaptopodin mRNA in the principal cell layers. Light microscopic immunohistochemistry showed that the protein is distributed throughout the hippocampal formation in a region- and lamina-specific manner. Postembedding immunogold histochemistry demonstrated that synaptopodin is exclusively present in dendrites and spines, specifically in the spine neck in close association with the spine apparatus. Spines lacking a spine apparatus are not immunoreactive for synaptopodin. These data suggest that synaptopodin links the spine apparatus to actin and may thus be involved in the actin-based plasticity of spines.

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