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Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) is motile within dendritic spines, but the mechanisms underlying its regulation are poorly understood. To address this issue, we have simultaneously imaged morphology and ER content of dendritic spines in cultured dissociated mouse hippocampal neurons. Over a 10 min period, spines were highly dynamic, with spines both increasing and decreasing in volume. ER was present in approximately 50% of spines and was also highly dynamic, with a net increase over this period of time. Inhibition of the endogenous activation of NMDA receptors resulted in a reduction in ER growth. Conversely, augmentation of the synaptic activation of NMDA receptors, by elimination of striatal-enriched protein tyrosine phosphatase (STEP), resulted in enhanced ER growth. Therefore, NMDA receptors rapidly regulate spine ER dynamics.

Original publication




Journal article


Mol Brain

Publication Date





Animals, Cell Shape, Cells, Cultured, Dendritic Spines, Endoplasmic Reticulum, Hippocampus, Mice, Protein Tyrosine Phosphatases, Non-Receptor, Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate