Substructure in the postsynaptic density of Purkinje cell dendritic spines revealed by rapid freezing and etching. Academic Article uri icon


  • In tissue prepared by rapid freezing, freeze fracture, and shallow etching, the postsynaptic density of Purkinje cell dendritic spines has a substructure consisting of fine filaments and irregular, globular adherent proteins. The number and packing density of the globular proteins vary from region to region within a single density and are even more variable when different junctions are compared. Whereas actinlike microfilaments and spectrinlike filaments are juxtaposed to the postsynaptic density, they do not appear to be continuous with the constituent filaments of the density. We suggest that the postsynaptic density at this class of synapse is composed of fine filamentous proteins that insert on the postsynaptic membrane and serve as a supporting framework for a variety of globular proteins. The globular proteins may vary qualitatively and quantitatively from junction to junction, and are positioned in the region of the spine that has the greatest concentration of ionized calcium entering with the synaptic current, and the greatest extent of postsynaptic depolarization.

publication date

  • 1987