Calcium-calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) promotes the maturation of retinotectal glutamatergic synapses in Xenopus. Whether CaMKII activity also controls morphological maturation of optic tectal neurons was tested using in vivo time-lapse imaging of single neurons over periods of up to 5 days. Dendritic arbor elaboration slows with maturation, in correlation with the onset of CaMKII expression. Elevating CaMKII activity in young neurons by viral expression of constitutively active CaMKII slowed dendritic growth to a rate comparable to that of mature neurons. CaMKII overexpression stabilized dendritic structure in more mature neurons, whereas CaMKII inhibition increased their dendritic growth. Thus, endogenous CaMKII activity limits dendritic growth and stabilizes dendrites, and it may act as an activity-dependent mediator of neuronal maturation.
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