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Original Research ARTICLE

Front. Cell. Neurosci., 31 December 2007 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/neuro.03.001.2007

Effects of N-cadherin disruption on spine morphological dynamics

Control and Dynamical Systems Program, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
Division of Biology, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
Division of Biology, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA, USA
Structural changes at synapses are thought to be a key mechanism for the encoding of memories in the brain. Recent studies have shown that changes in the dynamic behavior of dendritic spines accompany bidirectional changes in synaptic plasticity, and that the disruption of structural constraints at synapses may play a mechanistic role in spine plasticity. While the prolonged disruption of N-cadherin, a key synaptic adhesion molecule, has been shown to alter spine morphology, little is known about the short-term regulation of spine morphological dynamics by N-cadherin. With time-lapse, confocal imaging in cultured hippocampal neurons, we examined the progression of structural changes in spines following an acute treatment with AHAVD, a peptide known to interfere with the function of N-cadherin. We characterized fast and slow timescale spine dynamics (minutes and hours, respectively) in the same population of spines. We show that N-cadherin disruption leads to enhanced spine motility and reduced length, followed by spine loss. The structural effects are accompanied by a loss of functional connectivity. Further, we demonstrate that early structural changes induced by AHAVD treatment, namely enhanced motility and reduced length, are indicators for later spine fate, i.e., spines with the former changes are more likely to be subsequently lost. Our results thus reveal the short-term regulation of synaptic structure by N-cadherin and suggest that some forms of morphological dynamics may be potential readouts for subsequent, stimulus-induced rewiring in neuronal networks.
spine dynamics, N-cadherin, motility, cell adhesion, structural constraints, hippocampus
Mysore SP, Tai C-Y and Schuman EM (2007). Effects of N-cadherin disruption on spine morphological dynamics. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 1:1. doi: 10.3389/neuro.03.001.2007
29 June 2007;
 Paper pending published:
21 September 2007;
12 December 2007;
 Published online:
31 December 2007

Edited by:

Alexander Borst, Max-Planck-Institute of Neurobiology, Germany

Reviewed by:

Menahem Segal, Weizman Institute for Science, Israel
Maria Passafaro, University of Milano, Italy
© 2007 Mysore, Tai and Schuman. This is an open-access article subject to an exclusive license agreement between the authors and the Frontiers Research Foundation, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original authors and source are credited.
Erin M. Schuman, Division of Biology MC 114-96, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125, USA. e-mail: schumane@caltech.edu