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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Essential role for the PKC target MARCKS in maintaining dendritic spine morphology.

Spine morphology is regulated by intracellular signals, like PKC, that affect cytoskeletal and membrane dynamics. We investigated the role of MARCKS (myristoylated, alanine-rich C-kinase substrate) in dendrites of 3-week-old hippocampal cultures. MARCKS associates with membranes via the combined action of myristoylation and a polybasic effector domain, which binds phospholipids and/or F-actin, unless phosphorylated by PKC. Knockdown of endogenous MARCKS using RNAi reduced spine density and size. PKC activation induced similar effects, which were prevented by expression of a nonphosphorylatable mutant. Moreover, expression of pseudophosphorylated MARCKS was, by itself, sufficient to induce spine loss and shrinkage, accompanied by reduced F-actin content. Nonphosphorylatable MARCKS caused spine elongation and increased the mobility of spine actin clusters. Surprisingly, it also decreased spine density via a novel mechanism of spine fusion, an effect that required the myristoylation sequence. Thus, MARCKS is a key factor in the maintenance of dendritic spines and contributes to PKC-dependent morphological plasticity.[1]


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