Actin capping protein regulates postsynaptic spine development through CPI-motif interactions

Kenneth R. Myers, Yanjie Fan, Patrick McConnell, John A. Cooper, James Q. Zheng

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Dendritic spines are small actin-rich protrusions essential for the formation of functional circuits in the mammalian brain. During development, spines begin as dynamic filopodia-like protrusions that are then replaced by relatively stable spines containing an expanded head. Remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton plays a key role in the formation and modification of spine morphology, however many of the underlying regulatory mechanisms remain unclear. Capping protein (CP) is a major actin regulating protein that caps the barbed ends of actin filaments, and promotes the formation of dense branched actin networks. Knockdown of CP impairs the formation of mature spines, leading to an increase in the number of filopodia-like protrusions and defects in synaptic transmission. Here, we show that CP promotes the stabilization of dendritic protrusions, leading to the formation of stable mature spines. However, the localization and function of CP in dendritic spines requires interactions with proteins containing a capping protein interaction (CPI) motif. We found that the CPI motif-containing protein Twinfilin-1 (Twf1) also localizes to spines where it plays a role in CP spine enrichment. The knockdown of Twf1 leads to an increase in the density of filopodia-like protrusions and a decrease in the stability of dendritic protrusions, similar to CP knockdown. Finally, we show that CP directly interacts with Shank and regulates its spine accumulation. These results suggest that spatiotemporal regulation of CP in spines not only controls the actin dynamics underlying the formation of stable postsynaptic spine structures, but also plays an important role in the assembly of the postsynaptic apparatus underlying synaptic function.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1020949
JournalFrontiers in Molecular Neuroscience
StatePublished - Sep 29 2022


  • CapZ
  • Shank
  • Twinfilin
  • cytoskeleton
  • dendritic spine
  • postsynaptic density
  • synapse


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