Fhod3 Controls the Dendritic Spine Morphology of Specific Subpopulations of Pyramidal Neurons in the Mouse Cerebral Cortex

Cereb Cortex. 2021 Mar 5;31(4):2205-2219. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhaa355.


Changes in the shape and size of the dendritic spines are critical for synaptic transmission. These morphological changes depend on dynamic assembly of the actin cytoskeleton and occur differently in various types of neurons. However, how the actin dynamics are regulated in a neuronal cell type-specific manner remains largely unknown. We show that Fhod3, a member of the formin family proteins that mediate F-actin assembly, controls the dendritic spine morphogenesis of specific subpopulations of cerebrocortical pyramidal neurons. Fhod3 is expressed specifically in excitatory pyramidal neurons within layers II/III and V of restricted areas of the mouse cerebral cortex. Immunohistochemical and biochemical analyses revealed the accumulation of Fhod3 in postsynaptic spines. Although targeted deletion of Fhod3 in the brain did not lead to any defects in the gross or histological appearance of the brain, the dendritic spines in pyramidal neurons within presumptive Fhod3-positive areas were morphologically abnormal. In primary cultures prepared from the Fhod3-depleted cortex, defects in spine morphology were only detected in Fhod3 promoter-active cells, a small population of pyramidal neurons, and not in Fhod3 promoter-negative pyramidal neurons. Thus, Fhod3 plays a crucial role in dendritic spine morphogenesis only in a specific population of pyramidal neurons in a cell type-specific manner.

Keywords: actins; cytoskeleton; dendrites; formins; neurites; pyramidal cells; synapses; synaptogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebral Cortex / metabolism*
  • Cerebral Cortex / ultrastructure
  • Dendritic Spines / genetics
  • Dendritic Spines / metabolism*
  • Dendritic Spines / ultrastructure
  • Formins / biosynthesis*
  • Formins / genetics
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Pyramidal Cells / metabolism*
  • Pyramidal Cells / ultrastructure


  • Fhod3 protein, mouse
  • Formins