Organization of mitochondria in olfactory bulb granule cell dendritic spines

Synapse. 1991 Jun;8(2):107-18. doi: 10.1002/syn.890080205.


In contrast to dendritic spines with only postsynaptic functions, the spines of olfactory bulb granule cells subserve both pre- and postsynaptic roles. In single sections these spines were previously seen to contain mitochondria, most likely needed to provide energy for presynaptic functions, but their frequency and distribution were unknown. In order to understand the organization of mitochondria in these specialized dendritic appendages, we have studied the geometry and cytoplasmic organization of granule cell spines with computer-assisted reconstructions of serial electron micrographs. The spine heads were seen to be elliptical in shape with a single pair of reciprocal synapses on the concave face apposed to the mitral/tufted cell dendrite. Mitochondria were found localized in the spine neck as well as the spine head and often extended between the two compartments. Based on their variable distribution it seems reasonable to suggest that these mitochondria are motile and move in and out of spine compartments from the parent dendrite. Spine apparatus was apparent in most of the spines as membrane bound cisterns of smooth endoplasmic reticulum located close to mitochondria. The possible role of spine apparatus in facilitating the movement of mitochondria in the necks and heads of granule cell spines in the absence of microtubules is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computer Graphics
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Mitochondria / ultrastructure*
  • Olfactory Bulb / ultrastructure*
  • Staining and Labeling