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Trends Cell Biol. 2005 Apr;15(4):216-21.

Synaptic contact dynamics controlled by cadherin and catenins.

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RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, 2-2-3 Minatojima-Minamimachi, Chuo-ku, Kobe 650-0047, Japan.


A synapse is the connection between neurons that joins an axon of one neuron to the dendrite of another. One class of synapses is formed at the contact point between an axon and a small protrusion from a dendrite, called a dendritic spine. These spines are motile and deformable, which indicates that synaptic functions are controlled, at least in part, by their morphological changes. Recent studies show that the cadherin cell-adhesion molecules and their cytoplasmic partners, catenins, can modulate axon-spine contacts in a manner that responds to neural activity. These observations indicate that cadherins, which are essential for general cell-cell adhesion, also play a role in the control of synaptic dynamics.

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