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Independent regulation of calcium revealed by imaging dendritic spines

Nature volume 354, pages 7680 (07 November 1991) | Download Citation

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Abstract

THE dendritic spine is a basic structural unit of neuronal organization. It is assumed to be a primary locus of synaptic plasticity, and to undergo long-term morphological and functional changes1–6, at least some of which are regulated by intracellular calcium concentrations7–11. It is known that physiological stimuli can cause marked increases in intracellular calcium levels in hippocampal dendritic shafts12,13, but it is completely unknown to what extent such changes in the dendrites would also be seen by calcium-sensing structures within spines. Will calcium levels in all spines change in parallel with the dendrite or will there be a heterogeneous response? This study, through direct visualization and measurement of intracellular calcium concentrations in individual living spines, demonstrates that experimentally evoked changes in calcium concentrations in the dendritic shaft ([Ca2+]d) are frequently not parallelled in the spine ([Ca2+]s). This isolation is not caused by a physical diffusion barrier. This report provides, to our knowledge, the first direct demonstration of autonomous spine function.

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Author information

Affiliations

  1. Program in Neuronal Growth and Development, Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA

    • Peter B. Guthrie
    •  & S. B. Kater
  2. Center for Neuroscience, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel

    • Menahem Segal
  3. To whom correspondence should be addressed

    • S. B. Kater

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https://doi.org/10.1038/354076a0

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