Spinophilin, a protein that interacts with actin and protein phosphatase-1, is highly enriched in dendritic spines. Here, through the use of spinophilin knockout mice, we provide evidence that spinophilin modulates both glutamatergic synaptic transmission and dendritic morphology. The ability of protein phosphatase-1 to regulate the activity of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) and N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors was reduced in spinophilin knockout mice. Consistent with altered glutamatergic transmission, spinophilin-deficient mice showed reduced long-term depression and exhibited resistance to kainate-induced seizures and neuronal apoptosis. In addition, deletion of the spinophilin gene caused a marked increase in spine density during development in vivo as well as altered filopodial formation in cultured neurons. In conclusion, spinophilin appears to be required for the regulation of the properties of dendritic spines.
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