[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Two facts about the hippocampus have been common currency among neuroscientists for several decades. First, lesions of the hippocampus in humans prevent the acquisition of new episodic memories; second, activity-dependent synaptic plasticity is a prominent feature of hippocampal synapses. Given this background, the hypothesis that hippocampus-dependent memory is mediated, at least in part, by hippocampal synaptic plasticity has seemed as cogent in theory as it has been difficult to prove in practice. Here we argue that the recent development of transgenic molecular devices will encourage a shift from mechanistic investigations of synaptic plasticity in single neurons towards an analysis of how networks of neurons encode and represent memory, and we suggest ways in which this might be achieved. In the process, the hypothesis that synaptic plasticity is necessary and sufficient for information storage in the brain may finally be validated.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK-3) is a serine/threonine kinase regulating diverse cellular functions including metabolism, transcription and cell survival. Numerous intracellular signalling pathways converge on GSK-3 and regulate its activity via inhibitory serine-phosphorylation. Recently, GSK-3 has been involved in learning and memory and in neurodegeneration. Here, we present evidence that implicates GSK-3 in synaptic plasticity. We show that phosphorylation at the inhibitory Ser9 site on GSK-3beta is increased upon induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) in both hippocampal subregions CA1 and the dentate gyrus (DG) in vivo. The increase in inhibitory GSK-3beta phosphorylation is robust and persists for at least one hour postinduction. Furthermore, we find that LTP is impaired in transgenic mice conditionally overexpressing GSK-3beta. The LTP deficits can be attenuated/rescued by chronic treatment with lithium, a GSK-3 inhibitor. These results suggest that the inhibition of GSK-3 facilitates the induction of LTP and this might explain some of the negative effects of GSK-3 on learning and memory. It follows that this role of GSK-3beta in LTP might underlie some of the cognitive dysfunction in diseases where GSK-3 dysfunction has been implicated, including Alzheimer's and other dementias.
European Journal of Neuroscience 02/2007; 25(1):81-6. · 3.75 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Arc/Arg3.1 is robustly induced by plasticity-producing stimulation and specifically targeted to stimulated synaptic areas. To investigate the role of Arc/Arg3.1 in synaptic plasticity and learning and memory, we generated Arc/Arg3.1 knockout mice. These animals fail to form long-lasting memories for implicit and explicit learning tasks, despite intact short-term memory. Moreover, they exhibit a biphasic alteration of hippocampal long-term potentiation in the dentate gyrus and area CA1 with an enhanced early and absent late phase. In addition, long-term depression is significantly impaired. Together, these results demonstrate a critical role for Arc/Arg3.1 in the consolidation of enduring synaptic plasticity and memory storage.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The expression mechanism of long-term potentiation (LTP) remains controversial. Here we combine electrophysiology and Ca(2+) imaging to examine the role of silent synapses in LTP expression. Induction of LTP fails to change p(r) at these synapses but instead mediates an unmasking process that is sensitive to the inhibition of postsynaptic membrane fusion. Once unmasked, however, further potentiation of formerly silent synapses leads to an increase in p(r). The state of the synapse thus determines how LTP is expressed.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The identification of the genetic determinants specifying neuronal networks in the mammalian brain is crucial for the understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that ultimately control cognitive functions. Here we have generated a targeted allele of the LIM-homeodomain-encoding gene Lhx7 by replacing exons 3-5 with a LacZ reporter. In heterozygous animals, which are healthy, fertile and have no apparent cellular deficit in the forebrain, b-galactosidase activity reproduces the pattern of expression of the wild-type Lhx7 locus. However, homozygous mutant mice show severe deficits in forebrain cholinergic neurons (FCNs), while other classes of forebrain neurons appear unaffected. Using the LacZ reporter as a marker, we show that in LHX7-deficient mice FCN progenitors survive but fail to generate cholinergic interneurons in the striatum and cholinergic projection neurons in the basal forebrain. Analysis of behaviour in a series of spatial and non-spatial learning and memory tasks revealed that FCN ablation in Lhx7 mutants is associated with severe deficits in spatial but only mild impairment of non-spatial learning and memory. In addition, we found no deficit in long-term potentiation in mutant animals, suggesting that FCNs modulate hippocampal function independently of its capacity to store information. Overall our experiments demonstrate that Lhx7 expression is required for the specification or differentiation of cholinergic forebrain neurons involved in the processing of spatial information.
European Journal of Neuroscience 07/2005; 21(11):2923-38. · 3.75 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Long-term potentiation (LTP) is the activity-dependent process by which transmission is persistently enhanced at chemical synapses in the brain. Details of the cellular mechanisms responsible for LTP are becoming clearer, as neuroscientists identify the key molecules in synaptic transmission, and also the signaling cascades, transcription factors and effector molecules that alter transmission at potentiated synapses. In this review we describe the contributions of pharmacology to the field of synaptic plasticity, and also discuss the role of LTP in developing potential nootropic drugs to enhance learning and memory.
Current opinion in investigational drugs (London, England: 2000) 02/2005; 6(1):25-34. · 3.55 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The induction and maintenance of synaptic plasticity is well established to be a Ca2+-dependent process. The use of fluorescent imaging to monitor changes [Ca2+]i in neurones has revealed a diverse array of signaling patterns across the different compartments of the cell. The Ca2+ signals within these compartments are generated by voltage or ligand-gated Ca2+ influx, and release from intracellular stores. The changes in [Ca2+]i are directly linked to the activity of the neurone, thus a neurone's input and output is translated into a dynamic Ca2+ code. Despite considerable progress in measuring this code much still remains to be determined in order to understand how the code is interpreted by the Ca2+ sensors that underlie the induction of compartment-specific plastic changes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: It is generally believed that long-term potentiation (LTP) at hippocampal mossy fiber synapses between dentate granule and CA3 pyramidal cells is expressed through presynaptic mechanisms leading to an increase in quantal content. The source of this increase has remained undefined but could include enhanced probability of transmitter release at existing functional release sites or increases in the number of active release sites. We performed optical quantal analyses of transmission at individual mossy fiber synapses in cultured hippocampal slices, using confocal microscopy and intracellular fluorescent Ca(2+) indicators. Our results indicate that LTP is expressed at functional synapses by both increased probability of transmitter release and recruitment of new release sites, including the activation of previously silent synapses here visualized for the first time.
Journal of Neuroscience 05/2004; 24(14):3618-26. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have investigated synaptic function in the hippocampus in mice of different ages carrying a null mutation in the PrP gene. Experiments carried out in vivo and in vitro in two laboratories revealed no differences in the ability of juvenile and young adult control and PrP-null mice to express long-term potentiation, paired-pulse facilitation, or posttetanic potentiation in either the dentate gyrus or in the CA1 region. However, we found a significant reduction in the level of posttetanic potentiation and long-term potentiation in the CA1 region of aged PrP-null mice. These results are discussed in relationship to reported increased levels of oxidative stress in older PrP-null mice.
Neurobiology of Disease 07/2003; 13(1):55-62. · 5.62 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Extracellular regulated kinases (ERKI/II), members of the mitogen-activated protein kinase family, play a role in long-term memory and long-term potentiation (LTP). ERKI/II is required for the induction of the early phase of LTP, and we show that it is also required for the late phase of LTP in area CA1 in vitro, induced by a protocol of brief, repeated 100 Hz trains. We also show that ERKI/II is necessary for the upregulation of the proteins encoded by the immediate early genes Zif268 and Homer after the induction of LTP in the dentate gyrus by tetanic stimulation of the perforant path in vivo or by BDNF stimulation of primary cortical cultures. To test whether the induction of persistent synaptic plasticity by stimuli such as BDNF is associated with nuclear translocation of ERKI/II, we expressed enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP)-ERKII in PC12 cell lines and primary cortical cultures. In both preparations, we observed translocation of EGFP-ERKII from the cytoplasm to the nucleus in cells exposed to neurotrophic factors. Our results suggest that the induction of late LTP involves translocation of ERKI/II to the nucleus in which it activates the transcription of immediate early genes. The ability to visualize the cellular redistribution of ERKII after induction of long-term synaptic plasticity may provide a method for visualizing neuronal circuits underlying information storage in the brain in vivo.
Journal of Neuroscience 08/2002; 22(13):5432-41. · 6.91 Impact Factor