Rho GTpases and spines

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Dendritic spines are tiny protrusions on neurons that receive most of the excitatory synaptic inputs in the brain. Prior to spine formation during brain development, dendrites are covered with actin-rich, filopodia-like protrusions. These protrusions are believed to be actively searching for presynaptic partners, and once a contact is formed, the protrusion matures into a mushroom-shaped spine, which is rich in actin and essentially devoid of microtubules. Alternatively, actin-rich spines can form de novo from the dendritic shaft. Thus, the formation of spines requires extensive reorganization of the actin cytoskeleton, and it is likely that regulators of actin dynamics play a central role in spine development. Indeed, evidence is emerging that points to a key function for actin regulators, particularly proteins that participate in the Rho signaling pathway, in spine morphogenesis. This article focuses on the Rho GTPase signaling pathways that lead to actin reorganization and their effects on dendritic spine morphogenesis and plasticity.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Curated Reference Collection in Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Psychology
PublisherElsevier Science Ltd.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9780128093245
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


  • Actin
  • Actin regulating proteins
  • Cdc42
  • Cytoskeleton
  • GAP
  • GEF
  • GTPases
  • Mental retardation
  • Myosin
  • Rac
  • Rho
  • Signal transduction
  • Spine
  • Synapse


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