Cytoskeletal dynamics in dendritic spines: direct modulation by glutamate receptors?

Trends Neurosci. 1999 Jul;22(7):290-5. doi: 10.1016/s0166-2236(99)01404-6.


A wide heterogeneity in dendritic-spine morphology is observed and ultrastructural changes can be induced following experimental stimulation of neurons. Morphological adaptation of a given spine might, thus, reflect its history or the current state of synaptic activity. These changes could conceivably result from rearrangements of the cytoskeleton that is subjacent to excitatory synapses. This article dicusses the direct and indirect interactions, between glutamate receptors and the cytoskeletal proteins, which include PDZ-containing proteins, actin and tubulin, as well as associated proteins. In fact, the synaptic-activity-controlled balancing of monomeric, dimeric and polymeric forms of actin and tubulin might underlie the changes in spine shape. These continuous adaptations could be relevant for physiological events, such as learning and the formation of memory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure
  • Dendrites / metabolism*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Receptors, Glutamate / metabolism*
  • Tubulin / metabolism


  • Actins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Receptors, Glutamate
  • Tubulin