Cytoskeletal makeup of the synapse: Shaft versus spine

Cytoskeleton (Hoboken). 2020 Mar;77(3-4):55-64. doi: 10.1002/cm.21583. Epub 2019 Dec 4.


The ability of neurons to communicate and store information depends on the activity of synapses which can be located on small protrusions (dendritic spines) or directly on the dendritic shaft. The formation, plasticity, and stability of synapses are regulated by the neuronal cytoskeleton. Actin filaments together with microtubules, neurofilaments, septins, and scaffolding proteins orchestrate the structural organization of both shaft and spine synapses, enabling their efficacy in response to synaptic activation. Synapses critically depend on several factors, which are also mediated by the cytoskeleton, including transport and delivery of proteins from the soma, protein synthesis, as well as surface diffusion of membrane proteins. In this minireview, we focus on recent progress made in the field of cytoskeletal elements of the postsynapse and discuss the differences and similarities between synapses located in the spines versus dendritic shaft.

Keywords: F-actin; microtubule; pyramidal neurons; septins; shaft synapse; spine cytoskeleton.

Publication types

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