The development of nervous system connectivity depends upon the arborization of dendritic fields and the stabilization of dendritic spine synapses. It is well established that neuronal activity and the neurotrophin BDNF modulate these correlated processes. However, the downstream mechanisms by which these extrinsic signals regulate dendritic development and spine stabilization are less well known. Here we report that a substrate of BDNF signaling, the Ankyrin Repeat-rich Membrane Spanning (ARMS) protein or Kidins220, plays a critical role in the branching of cortical and hippocampal dendrites and in the turnover of cortical spines. In the barrel somatosensory cortex and the dentate gyrus, regions where ARMS/Kidins220 is highly expressed, no difference in the complexity of dendritic arbors was observed in 1-month-old adolescent ARMS/Kidins220(+/-) mice compared to wild-type littermates. However, at 3 months of age, young adult ARMS/Kidins220(+/-) mice exhibited decreased dendritic complexity. This suggests that ARMS/Kidins220 does not play a significant role in the initial formation of dendrites but, rather, is involved in the refinement or stabilization of the arbors later in development. In addition, at 1 month of age, the rate of spine elimination was higher in ARMS/Kidins220(+/-) mice than in wild-type mice, suggesting that ARMS/Kidins220(+/-) levels regulate spine stability. Taken together, these data suggest that ARMS/Kidins220 is important for the growth of dendritic arbors and spine stability during an activity- and BDNF-dependent period of development.
(c) 2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Develop Neurobiol 2009.