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Excitatory amino acid involvement in dendritic spine formation, maintenance and remodelling

Authors

  • R. Anne McKinney

    1. Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Bellini Life Science Building, Room 167, McGill University, 3649 Promenade Sir-William-Osler, Montreal, H3G 0B1, Canada
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  • This review was presented at a symposium on Neurophysiology of inhibitory & excitatory amino acid receptors which took place at the 11th International Congress on Amino Acids, Peptides and Proteins, Vienna, on 3 August 2009.

Corresponding author R. A. McKinney: Department of Pharmacology and Therapeutics, Bellini Life Science Building, Room 167, McGill University, 3649 Promenade Sir-William-Osler, Montreal, H3G 0B1, Canada. Email: anne.mckinney@mcgill.ca

Abstract

In the central nervous system, most excitatory synapses occur on dendritic spines, which are small protrusions from the dendritic tree. In the mature cortex and hippocampus, dendritic spines are heterogeneous in shape. It has been shown that the shapes of the spine can affect synapse stability and synaptic function. Dendritic spines are highly motile structures that can undergo actin-dependent shape changes, which occur over a time scale ranging from seconds to tens of minutes or even days. The formation, remodelling and elimination of excitatory synapses on dendritic spines represent ways of refining the microcircuitry in the brain. Here I review the current knowledge on the effects of modulation of AMPA and NMDA ionotropic glutamate receptors on dendritic spine formation, motility and remodelling.

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