AMPA-receptor activation regulates the diffusion of a membrane marker in parallel with dendritic spine motility in the mouse hippocampus


Corresponding author D. A. Richards: Department of Physiology, SMI 129, University of  Wisconsin, 1300 University Ave, Madison, WI 53706, USA. Email:


Dendritic spines are the site of most excitatory connections in the hippocampus. We have investigated the diffusibility of a membrane-bound green fluorescent protein (mGFP) within the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane using Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching. In dendritic spines the diffusion of mGFP was significantly retarded relative to the dendritic shaft. In parallel, we have assessed the motility of dendritic spines, and found an inverse correlation between spine motility and the rate of diffusion of mGFP. We then tested the influence of glutamate receptor activation or blockade, and the involvement of the actin cytoskeleton (using latrunculin A) on spine motility and mGFP diffusion. These results show that glutamate receptors regulate the mobility of molecules in the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane through an action upon the actin cytoskeleton, suggesting a novel mechanism for the regulation of postsynaptic receptor density and composition.