Dendritic spine actin dynamics in neuronal maturation and synaptic plasticity

Cytoskeleton (Hoboken). 2016 Sep;73(9):435-41. doi: 10.1002/cm.21280. Epub 2016 Mar 4.


The majority of the postsynaptic terminals of excitatory synapses in the central nervous system exist on small bulbous structures on dendrites known as dendritic spines. The actin cytoskeleton is a structural element underlying the proper development and morphology of dendritic spines. Synaptic activity patterns rapidly change actin dynamics, leading to morphological changes in dendritic spines. In this mini-review, we will discuss recent findings on neuronal maturation and synaptic plasticity-induced changes in the dendritic spine actin cytoskeleton. We propose that actin dynamics in dendritic spines decrease through actin filament crosslinking during neuronal maturation. In long-term potentiation, we evaluate the model of fast breakdown of actin filaments through severing and rebuilding through polymerization and later stabilization through crosslinking. We will discuss the role of Ca(2+) in long-term depression, and suggest that actin filaments are dissolved through actin filament severing. © 2016 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: actin cytoskeleton; dendritic spines; neuronal maturation; synaptic plasticity.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Actins / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Dendritic Spines / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Synaptic Depression / physiology*
  • Models, Neurological*


  • Actins