Dendritic spines are a major substrate of brain plasticity. Although many studies have focused on Ca 2+ /calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII)-mediated regulation of spine dynamics and synaptic function in adult brain, much less is know about protein kinase A (PKA)-dependent regulation of spine shape dynamics during postnatal brain development. Synaptopodin is a dendritic spine associated modulator of actin dynamics and a substrate of PKA. Here we show that NMDA and cAMP-induced dendritic spine expansion is impaired in hippocampal slices from 15-and 21-d-old synaptopodin-deficient mice. We further show that synaptopodin is required for full expression of PKA-dependent hippocampal long-term potentiation in 15-and 21-d-old, but not adult, mice. PKA-induced cAMP response element-binding phosphorylation is normal in the hippocampus of synaptopodin-deficient mice, suggesting that synaptopodin functions independently of cAMP response element-binding. Our results identify synaptopodin as a substrate of PKA in hippocampal neurons and point to an essential role for synaptopodin in activity-dependent regulation of dendritic spine dynamics and synaptic plasticity in postnatal brain development.
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