Convergent CaMK and RacGEF signals control dendritic structure and function

Peter Penzes*, Michael E. Cahill, Kelly A. Jones, Deepak P. Srivastava

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


Structural plasticity of excitatory synapses is a vital component of neuronal development, synaptic plasticity and behavior, and its malfunction underlies many neurodevelopmental and psychiatric disorders. However, the molecular mechanisms that control dendritic spine morphogenesis have only recently emerged. We summarize recent work that has revealed an important connection between calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinases (CaMKs) and guanine-nucleotide-exchange factors (GEFs) that activate the small GTPase Rac (RacGEFs) in controlling dendritic spine morphogenesis. These two groups of molecules function in neurons as a unique signaling cassette that transduces calcium influx into small GTPase activity and, thence, actin reorganization and spine morphogenesis. Through this pathway, CaMKs and RacGEFs amplify calcium signals and translate them into spatially and temporally regulated structural remodeling of dendritic spines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)405-413
Number of pages9
JournalTrends in Cell Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology


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