Dendritic spine actin cytoskeleton in autism spectrum disorder

Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry. 2018 Jun 8;84(Pt B):362-381. doi: 10.1016/j.pnpbp.2017.08.023. Epub 2017 Sep 1.


Dendritic spines are small actin-rich protrusions from neuronal dendrites that form the postsynaptic part of most excitatory synapses. Changes in the shape and size of dendritic spines correlate with the functional changes in excitatory synapses and are heavily dependent on the remodeling of the underlying actin cytoskeleton. Recent evidence implicates synapses at dendritic spines as important substrates of pathogenesis in neuropsychiatric disorders, including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although synaptic perturbations are not the only alterations relevant for these diseases, understanding the molecular underpinnings of the spine and synapse pathology may provide insight into their etiologies and could reveal new drug targets. In this review, we will discuss recent findings of defective actin regulation in dendritic spines associated with ASD.

Keywords: Actin dynamics; Rho GTPases; dendritic spines; postsynapse.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actin Cytoskeleton / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / metabolism
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder / pathology*
  • Dendritic Spines / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Synapses / metabolism*