Regulator of Dendrite and Synapse Formation

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Science  24 Sep 2004:
Vol. 305, Issue 5692, pp. 1877
DOI: 10.1126/science.305.5692.1877b

Two papers by Shi et al. describe a receptor-like molecule that functions in the formation and maturation of dendrites, the specialized regions of neurons where they receive input from other neurons. Having noted genetic evidence from Drosophila that a protein from the immunoglobulin superfamily appeared to function in the formation of dendrites, the authors searched for and identified a mouse protein they named Dasm1, for dendrite arborization and synapse maturation. In cultured rat hippocampal neurons, loss of Dasm1 inhibited the outgrowth of dendrites but not of axons. To examine later stages of synapse formation, the authors prepared hippocampal slices from 8-day-old rats and found that inhibition of Dasm1 function reduced the acquisition of signaling through AMPA α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid) receptors that is normally associated with synapse maturation. Two possible binding partners for Dasm1 are the proteins Shank (Src homology 3 domain- and ankyrin repeat-containing protein) and S-SCAM (synaptic scaffolding molecule), which have been implicated previously in the regulation of synaptic function. Thus, Dasm1 may transduce extracellular signals in postsynaptic neurons, regulating cytoskeletal organization and synaptic expression of neurotransmitter receptors. — LBR

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 101, 13341; 13346 (2004).

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