The roles of dendritic spine shapes in Purkinje cells

Kea Joo Lee, Hyun Kim, Im Joo Rhyu

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


Shapes of dendritic spines are changed by various physiological or pathological states. The high degree of spine shape heterogeneity suggests that they would be the morphological basis for synaptic plasticity. An increasing number of proteins and signal transduction pathways have recently been shown to be associated with structural modifications of spines. Here, we review the possible functional roles of spine shapes in cerebellar Purkinje neurons. Several studies have suggested that spine shapes in Purkinje cells are regulated by both intrinsic and environmental factors, and different spine shapes could have significantly different consequences for brain function. Clearly constricted necks observed in thin, mushroom-shaped, and branched spines serve for compartmentalization of calcium and other second messenger molecules, influencing different signaling mechanisms and synaptic plasticity. Mushroom-shaped spines frequently have perforated postsynaptic density and the area of the spine head is much larger than simple spines, implying that membrane dynamics and receptor turnover are occurring. Branched spines might form additional synapses with afferent inputs resulting in the modification of neuronal circuits. Taken together, all these studies suggest that each spine shape is likely to have a distinct role in Purkinje cell function.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)97-104
Number of pages8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Dr Ivan Jeanne Weiler and Dr Sang Duk Kim for helpful comments and critical reading of the manuscript. This work was supported by Brain Korea 21 Project for Biomedical Science and grant of the Korean Health 21 R&D Project, Korean Ministry of Health and Welfare (HMP-00-GN-01-0002).


  • Cerebellar cortex
  • Climbing fiber
  • Parallel fiber
  • Plasticity
  • Synapses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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