From Electrical Activity to Dendritic Spine Morphology

Science's STKE  25 Nov 2003:
Vol. 2003, Issue 210, pp. tw458-TW458
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2102003TW458

The activity-dependent remodeling of synapses that involves new gene expression is believed to be important for long-lasting forms of synaptic modification. Synaptic remodeling after plasticity induction involves the dismantling and reorganization of key cytoskeletal and scaffolding protein complexes. Pak and Sheng (see the Perspective by Meyer and Brose) investigated an important element of the signaling cascade that couples electrical activity to changes in dendritic spine morphology. An activity-inducible kinase, SNK, moves to synaptic spines and causes the phosphorylation and subsequent degradation of SPAR, a key protein in the postsynaptic density. This loss of SPAR then leads to the dismantling of dendritic spines.

D. T. S. Pak, M. Sheng, Targeted protein degradation and synapse remodeling by an inducible protein kinase. Science 302, 1368-1373 (2003). [Abstract] [Full Text]

G. Meyer, N. Brose, SPARring with spines. Science 302, 1341-1344 (2003). [Summary] [Full Text]