The specialized morphology of dendritic spines creates an isolated compartment that allows for localized biochemical signaling. Recent studies have revealed complexity in the function of the spine head as a signaling domain and indicate that (1) the spine is functionally subdivided into multiple independent microdomains and (2) not all biochemical signals are equally compartmentalized within the spine. Here we review these findings as well as the developments in fluorescence microscopy that are making possible direct monitoring of signaling within spines and, in the future, within sub-spine microdomains.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)389-396
Number of pages8
JournalCurrent Opinion in Neurobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2012


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