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Curr Biol. 2007 Oct 23;17(20):1752-8. Epub 2007 Oct 11.

Role of Septin cytoskeleton in spine morphogenesis and dendrite development in neurons.

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The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory, RIKEN-MIT Neuroscience Research Center, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


Septins are GTP-binding proteins that polymerize into heteromeric filaments and form microscopic bundles or ring structures in vitro and in vivo. Because of these properties and their ability to associate with membrane, F-actin, and microtubules, septins have been generally regarded as cytoskeletal components [1, 2]. Septins are known to play roles in cytokinesis, in membrane trafficking, and as structural scaffolds; however, their function in neurons is poorly understood. Many members of the septin family, including Septin 7 (Sept7), were found by mass-spectrometry analysis of postsynaptic density (PSD) fractions of the brain [3, 4], suggesting a possible postsynaptic function of septins in neurons. We report that Sept7 is localized at the base of dendritic protrusions and at dendritic branch points in cultured hippocampal neurons--a distribution reminiscent of septin localization in the bud neck of budding yeast. Overexpression of Sept7 increased dendrite branching and the density of dendritic protrusions, whereas RNA interference (RNAi)-mediated knockdown of Sept7 led to reduced dendrite arborization and a greater proportion of immature protrusions. These data suggest that Sept7 is critical for spine morphogenesis and dendrite development during neuronal maturation.

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