Conclusion And Future Directions

Over the last few years, our knowledge of the molecules and molecular mechanisms involved in the formation and function of synapses and dendritic spines has considerably increased, and a number of protein complexes and signaling pathways have been independently identified by different laboratories.

The next step is to put all of this information together. The ability of some scaffold proteins to assemble different protein complexes may enable them to link different signaling pathways in synapses and spines, thus making it important to identify all of the scaffold protein-binding partners and how their interactions are regulated. It is even more important to understand how the synthesis, post-translational modification and degradation of scaffold proteins are regulated. All of these studies will be more informative if carried out at the level of single neurons and single spine because it is now clear that the mechanisms regulating spine and synapse formation and function may not only differ in various types of neurons, but also in different spines and synapses belonging to the same neuron.

It is therefore necessary to combine biochemical, morphological, and genetic techniques in order to define better how scaffold and associated proteins are specifically involved in regulating each single synapse and spine. The final aim of this complex work is to increase our knowledge of the origin of various cognitive disorders associated with dendritic spine and synapse abnormalities, which will make it possible to interfere with and repair the damaged molecular mechanism, thus improving the treatment of patients with severe cognitive dysfunctions.

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