Matrix metalloproteinase-9 involvement in the structural plasticity of dendritic spines

Front Neuroanat. 2014 Jul 10:8:68. doi: 10.3389/fnana.2014.00068. eCollection 2014.


Dendritic spines are the locus for excitatory synaptic transmission in the brain and thus play a major role in neuronal plasticity. The ability to alter synaptic connections includes volumetric changes in dendritic spines that are driven by scaffolds created by the extracellular matrix (ECM). Here, we review the effects of the proteolytic activity of ECM proteases in physiological and pathological structural plasticity. We use matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9) as an example of an ECM modifier that has recently emerged as a key molecule in regulating the morphology and dysmorphology of dendritic spines that underlie synaptic plasticity and neurological disorders, respectively. We summarize the influence of MMP-9 on the dynamic remodeling of the ECM via the cleavage of extracellular substrates. We discuss its role in the formation, modification, and maintenance of dendritic spines in learning and memory. Finally, we review research that implicates MMP-9 in aberrant synaptic plasticity and spine dysmorphology in neurological disorders, with a focus on morphological abnormalities of dendritic protrusions that are associated with epilepsy.

Keywords: dendritic spines; epilepsy; extracellular matrix; matrix metalloproteinase-9; structural synaptic plasticity.

Publication types

  • Review