A dendrite from a hippocampal neuron expressing GFP-actin, which is enriched in spine heads.
We are studying the molecular mechanisms that underlie changes in spine size during synaptic plasticity (Nakamura et al., 2011, EMBO J.; Rocca et al., 2013, Neuron) and also in response to OGD (Blanco Suarez et al., 2014, J.Cereb. Blood Flow Metab.).
Spines are extremely rich in dynamic actin filaments, which underlie these activity-dependent changes in spine size. LTP is thought to promote actin polymerization resulting in an increase in spine F-actin, and LTD results in reduced F-actin via actin depolymerization. The signalling pathways that lead to these changes in actin polymerization to bring about spine growth or shrinkage are affected by OGD, and we propose that manipulating these pathways holds therapeutic potential.