Drebrin A is a postsynaptic protein that localizes in vivo to the submembranous surface of dendritic sites forming excitatory synapses

Chiye Aoki, Yuko Sekino, Kenji Hanamura, Sho Fujisawa, Veeravan Mahadomrongkul, Yong Ren, Tomoaki Shirao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Drebrin A is a neuron-specific, actin binding protein. Evidence to date is from in vitro studies, consistently supporting the involvement of drebrin A in spinogenesis and synaptogenesis. We sought to determine whether drebrin A arrives at the plasma membrane of neurons, in vivo, in time to orchestrate spinogenesis and synaptogenesis. To this end, a new antibody was used to locate drebrin A in relation to electron microscopically imaged synapses during early postnatal days. Western blotting showed that drebrin A emerges at postnatal day (PNd) 6 and becomes progressively more associated with F-actin in the pellet fraction. Light microscopy showed high concentrations of drebrin A in the synaptic layers of the hippocampus and cortex. Electron microscopy revealed that drebrin A in these regions is located exclusively in dendrites both neonatally and in adulthood. In adulthood, nearly all of the synaptic drebrin A is within spines forming asymmetric excitatory synapses, verified by γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) negativity. At PNd7, patches of drebrin A immunoreactivity were discretely localized to the submembranous surfaces of dendrites forming slight protrusions-protospines. The drebrin A sites exhibited only thin postsynaptic densities and lacked axonal associations or were contacted by axons that contained only a few vesicles. Yet, because of their immunoreactivity to the NR2B subunit of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptors and immunonegativity of axon terminals to GABA, these could be presumed to be nascent, excitatory synapses. Thus, drebrin A may be involved in organizing the dendritic pool of actin for the formation of spines and of axospinous excitatory synapses during early postnatal periods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-402
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Mar 21 2005


  • Cortex
  • Electron microscopy
  • F-actin
  • Hippocampus
  • NHDA receptor
  • NR2B
  • Proto-spines
  • Spinogenesis
  • Synaptogenesis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


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