Dendritic arborisation and spines constitute the main receptive section of nerve cell, with a number of important roles in neurotransmission, including information processing. Their extension or restriction is critical in many functions, but the mechanisms that govern development and maintenance of such structures are only now beginning to be understood. Two independent groups have investigated septins, yeast proteins critical for membrane compartmentalization, and found a key role for the GTP-binding cytoskeletal protein septin 7 (SEPT7) in dendrite branching and spine morphogenesis (Xie Y., et al. The GTP-binding protein septin 7 is critical for dendrite branching and dendritic-spine morphology. Curr. Biol. 17, 1746-1751, 2007; Tada T., et al. Role of septin cytoskeleton in spine morphogenesis and dendrite development in neurons. Curr. Biol. 17, 1752-1758, 2007).

Further work will be required to verify these findings in vivo.


BM&L-January 2008