A network of networks: cytoskeletal control of compartmentalized function within dendritic spines

Curr Opin Neurobiol. 2010 Oct;20(5):578-87. doi: 10.1016/j.conb.2010.06.009.


Almost 30 years ago, actin was identified as the major cytoskeletal component of dendritic spines. Since then, its role in the remarkable dynamics of spine morphology have been detailed with live-cell views establishing that spine shape dynamics are an important requirement for synaptogenesis and synaptic plasticity. However, the actin cytoskeleton is critical to numerous and varied processes within the spine which contribute to the maintenance and plasticity of synaptic function. Here, we argue that the spatial and temporal distribution of actin-dependent processes within spines suggests that the spine cytoskeleton should not be considered a single entity, but an interacting network of nodes or hubs that are independently regulated and balanced to maintain synapse function. Disruptions of this balance within the spine are likely to lead to psychiatric and neurological dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / physiology
  • Animals
  • Cell Compartmentation / physiology*
  • Cytoskeleton / physiology*
  • Dendritic Spines / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / anatomy & histology
  • Nerve Net / physiology*


  • Actins