What is it about?

Dendrites are long branching processes on neurons that contain small processes called spines that are the site of connections with other neurons, establishing cortical circuitry. Dendrites have long been considered stable structures, with rapid growth prior to adolescence followed by maintenance of size into adulthood. We show that this later stability is actually a dynamic interplay between growth and regression signals, and that enhancing a regression pathway during adolescence can lead to net loss of arbor size by adulthood.

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Why is it important?

Identifying a specific signaling pathway involved in dendritic arbor regression suggests that specific mediators can be targeted by future therapeutics to prevent or reverse dendritic impairments, which are seen in multiple neuropsychiatric diseases, including schizophrenia.


I hope people can appreciate that this work really highlights how neuropsychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia result from an interplay between genes and development. A genetic susceptibility present since birth may only show clinical symptoms after normal developmental processes "activate" it, in a sense. Understanding how genetics and development interact will allow us to come up with better diagnostic, prevention, and treatment strategies in the future.

Melanie Grubisha
University of Pittsburgh

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This page is a summary of: A Kalirin missense mutation enhances dendritic RhoA signaling and leads to regression of cortical dendritic arbors across development, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, November 2021, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2022546118.
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