Molecular regulation of dendritic spine shape and function

Neurosignals. Jul-Aug 2002;11(4):213-23. doi: 10.1159/000065433.


Dendritic spines are discrete membrane protrusions from dendritic shafts where the large majority of excitatory synapses are located. Their highly heterogeneous morphology is thought to be the morphological basis for synaptic plasticity. Electron microscopy and time-lapse imaging studies have suggested that the shape and number of spines can change after long-term potentiation (LTP), although there is no evidence that morphological changes are necessary for LTP induction and maintenance. An increasing number of proteins have been found to be morphogens for dendritic spines and provide new insights into the molecular mechanisms regulating spine formation and morphology.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Compartmentation / physiology
  • Cell Size / physiology
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism*
  • Central Nervous System / ultrastructure
  • Dendrites / metabolism*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Synaptic Membranes / metabolism*
  • Synaptic Membranes / ultrastructure
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*