Synapse- and Stimulus-Specific Local Translation During Long-Term Neuronal Plasticity

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Abstract

Long-term memory and synaptic plasticity require changes in gene expression and yet can occur in a synapse-specific manner. Messenger RNA localization and regulated translation at synapses are thus critical for establishing synapse specificity. Using live-cell microscopy of photoconvertible fluorescent protein translational reporters, we directly visualized local translation at synapses during long-term facilitation of Aplysia sensory-motor synapses. Translation of the reporter required multiple applications of serotonin, was spatially restricted to stimulated synapses, was transcript- and stimulus-specific, and occurred during long-term facilitation but not during long-term depression of sensory-motor synapses. Translational regulation only occurred in the presence of a chemical synapse and required calcium signaling in the postsynaptic motor neuron. Thus, highly regulated local translation occurs at synapses during long-term plasticity and requires trans-synaptic signals.

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