The ROR2 tyrosine kinase receptor regulates dendritic spine morphogenesis in hippocampal neurons

Iván E. Alfaro, Lorena Varela-Nallar, Manuel Varas-Godoy, Nibaldo C. Inestrosa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Wnt signaling regulates synaptic development and function and contributes to the fine-tuning of the molecular and morphological differentiation of synapses. We have shown previously that Wnt5a activates non-canonical Wnt signaling to stimulate postsynaptic differentiation in excitatory hippocampal neurons promoting the clustering of the postsynaptic scaffold protein PSD-95 and the development of dendritic spines. At least three different kinds of Wnt receptors have been associated with Wnt5a signaling: seven trans-membrane Frizzled receptors and the tyrosine kinase receptors Ryk and ROR2. We report here that ROR2 is distributed in the dendrites of hippocampal neurons in close proximity to synaptic contacts and it is contained in dendritic spine protrusions. We demonstrate that ROR2 is necessary to maintain dendritic spine number and morphological distribution in cultured hippocampal neurons. ROR2 overexpression increased dendritic spine growth without affecting the density of dendritic spine protrusions in a form dependent on its extracellular Wnt binding cysteine rich domain (CRD) and kinase domain. Overexpression of dominant negative ROR2 lacking the extracellular CRD decreased spine density and the proportion of mushroom like spines, while ROR2 lacking the C-terminal and active kinase domains only affected spine morphology. Our results indicate a crucial role of the ROR2 in the formation and maturation of the postsynaptic dendritic spines in hippocampal neurons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-30
Number of pages9
JournalMolecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • Dendritic spines
  • Hippocampal neurons
  • ROR2
  • Synapse development
  • Wnt5a

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
  • Cell Biology


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