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Science 324 (5934): 1536-1540

Copyright © 2009 by the American Association for the Advancement of Science

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

Dan Ohtan Wang,1 Sang Mok Kim,1,2 Yali Zhao,1 Hongik Hwang,1 Satoru K. Miura,3 Wayne S. Sossin,6 Kelsey C. Martin1,3,4,5,*

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.

1 Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California–Los Angeles (UCLA), BSRB 390B, 615 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095–1737, USA.
2 Interdepartmental Program in Neurosciences, UCLA, BSRB 390B, 615 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095–1737, USA.
3 Department of Biological Chemistry, UCLA, BSRB 310, 615 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095–1737, USA.
4 Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, UCLA, BSRB 390B, 615 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095–1737, USA.
5 Brain Research Institute, UCLA, BSRB 390B, 615 Charles E. Young Drive South, Los Angeles, CA 90095–1737, USA.
6 Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, 3801 University Street, Montreal, Quebec H3A-2B4, Canada.

* To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: kcmartin{at}

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