Spatially restricted actin-regulatory signaling contributes to synapse morphology

Daniel A. Nicholson, Michael E. Cahill, Christopher T. Tulisiak, Yuri Geinisman, Peter Penzes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


The actin cytoskeleton in dendritic spines is organized into microdomains, but how signaling molecules that regulate actin are spatially governed is incompletely understood. Here we examine how the localization of the RacGEF kalirin-7, a well-characterized regulator of actin in spines, varies as a function of post-synaptic density area and spine volume. Using serial section electron microscopy, we find that extrasynaptic, but not synaptic, expression of kalirin-7 varies directly with synapse size and spine volume. Moreover, we find that overall expression levels of kalirin-7 differ in spines bearing perforated and non-perforated synapses, due primarily to extrasynaptic pools of kalirin-7 expression in the former. Overall, our findings indicate that kalirin-7 is differentially compartmentalized in spines as a function of both synapse morphology and spine size.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)852-860
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2012


  • Actin
  • Cytoskeleton
  • Dendritic spine
  • Kalirin
  • Post-synaptic density
  • Synapse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Biochemistry


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