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Greg Stuart, Nelson Spruston, and Michael Häusser

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198745273

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198745273.001.0001

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Biochemical compartmentalization in dendrites

Biochemical compartmentalization in dendrites

(p.285) Chapter 10 Biochemical compartmentalization in dendrites

Fritjof Helmchen

U. Valentin Nägerl

Oxford University Press

Dendrites have both an electrical and a biochemical character, which are closely linked. This chapter discusses dendritic structures as compartments for chemical signals such as concentration changes of ions or other second messengers, which control enzyme activity and signaling cascades. It focuses on the following question: to what extent can these signals be confined to only part of the dendritic tree or to dendritic spines? Such ‘compartmentalization’ is considered the basis of local modifications of dendritic properties, in particular to achieve input-specific changes in synaptic strength. General factors that affect compartmentalization of chemical signals are first discussed, including diffusion, intracellular binding, and removal mechanisms. Examples are given of measurements of dendritic ion and second messenger signaling, with the main focus on calcium signaling, for which the most detailed information is available from imaging studies. Subsequently, in an attempt to define functional units, an overview of the different spatial scales of dendritic compartmentalization is given, spanning a range of three orders of magnitude. Finally, there are examples of how chemical signals are used for dendritic information processing.

Keywords:   chemical signals, second messengers, diffusion, compartmentalization, dendritic tree, dendritic spines, calcium signaling, dendritic information processing

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