Editors' ChoiceNeurobiology

Wringing the Neck

Science's STKE  08 Nov 2005:
Vol. 2005, Issue 309, pp. tw397
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3092005tw397

The susceptibility of individual synapses to plasticity induction may be influenced by the ability of signaling molecules to move into and out of the head of the dendritic spine. Thus, regulation of protein movement by the spine neck offers a potentially powerful mechanism to control individual synapses. Bloodgood and Sabatini found that diffusional equilibration across the necks of dendritic spines is directly regulated by activity. By combining two-photon microscopy with two-photon laser photoactivation, protein movement was measured across the necks of a large population of spines. A subclass of spines were effectively isolated from the dendrite. Spine compartments have traditionally been treated as static entities, but it now appears that spine-dendrite coupling is strongly dynamic. Diffusion barriers vary considerably over time in a way that reflects the cell's recent history of spiking.

B. L. Bloodgood, B. L. Sabatini, Neuronal activity regulates diffusion across the neck of dendritic spines. Science 310, 866-869 (2005). [Abstract] [Full Text]