The Arp2/3 Complex Is Essential for Distinct Stages of Spine Synapse Maturation, Including Synapse Unsilencing.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

UNLABELLED: Dendritic filopodia are actin-rich structures that are thought to contribute to early spine synapse formation; however, the actin regulatory proteins important for early synaptogenesis are poorly defined. Using organotypic hippocampal slice cultures and primary neuron hippocampal cultures from Arp2/3 conditional knock-out mice, we analyze the roles of the Arp2/3 complex, an actin regulator that creates branched actin networks, and demonstrate it is essential for distinct stages of both structural and functional maturation of excitatory spine synapses. Our data show that initially the Arp2/3 complex inhibits the formation of dendritic filopodia but that later during development, the Arp2/3 complex drives the morphological maturation from filopodia to typical spine morphology. Furthermore, we demonstrate that although the Arp2/3 complex is not required for key spine maturation steps, such as presynaptic contact and recruitment of MAGUK (membrane-associated guanylate kinase) scaffolding proteins or NMDA receptors, it is necessary for the recruitment of AMPA receptors. This latter process, also known as synapse unsilencing, is a final and essential step in the neurodevelopment of excitatory postsynaptic synaptogenesis, setting the stage for neuronal interconnectivity. These findings provide the first evidence that the Arp2/3 complex is directly involved in functional maturation of dendritic spines during the developmental period of spinogenesis. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT: Excitatory spine synapse formation (spinogenesis) is a poorly understood yet pivotal period of neurodevelopment that occurs within 2-3 weeks after birth. Neurodevelopmental disorders such as intellectual disability and autism are characterized by abnormal spine structure, which may arise from abnormal excitatory synaptogenesis. The initial stage of spinogenesis is thought to begin with the emergence of actin-rich dendritic filopodia that initiate contact with presynaptic axonal boutons. However, it remains enigmatic how actin cytoskeletal regulation directs dendritic filopodial emergence or their subsequent maturation into dendritic spines during development and on into adulthood. In this study, we provide the first evidence that the Arp2/3 complex, a key actin nucleator, is involved in distinct stages of spine formation and is required for synapse unsilencing.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Spence, EF; Kanak, DJ; Carlson, BR; Soderling, SH

Published Date

  • September 14, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 36 / 37

Start / End Page

  • 9696 - 9709

PubMed ID

  • 27629719

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5039249

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1529-2401

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0876-16.2016


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States