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Neural Plasticity
Volume 2016, Article ID 2371970, 19 pages
Review Article

Regulation of the Postsynaptic Compartment of Excitatory Synapses by the Actin Cytoskeleton in Health and Its Disruption in Disease

1Neurodegeneration and Repair Unit, School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia
2Translational Neuroscience Facility, School of Medical Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia

Received 9 December 2015; Accepted 9 March 2016

Academic Editor: Zygmunt Galdzicki

Copyright © 2016 Holly Stefen et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Disruption of synaptic function at excitatory synapses is one of the earliest pathological changes seen in wide range of neurological diseases. The proper control of the segregation of neurotransmitter receptors at these synapses is directly correlated with the intact regulation of the postsynaptic cytoskeleton. In this review, we are discussing key factors that regulate the structure and dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton, the major cytoskeletal building block that supports the postsynaptic compartment. Special attention is given to the complex interplay of actin-associated proteins that are found in the synaptic specialization. We then discuss our current understanding of how disruption of these cytoskeletal elements may contribute to the pathological events observed in the nervous system under disease conditions with a particular focus on Alzheimer’s disease pathology.