Tagging + Recruitment = Learning

Sci. Signal.  26 Feb 2008:
Vol. 1, Issue 8, pp. ec75
DOI: 10.1126/stke.18ec75

Stabilizing long-term memories requires the expression of new gene products in the nucleus to generate physical changes or "tags" at a small subset of synapses on the dendrites of a neuron. Synthesis of AMPA receptors is increased during learning, which is suggestive of a possible role in this process. Matsuo et al. developed transgenic mice to monitor the trafficking and turnover of newly synthesized AMPA receptors in a fear-conditioning paradigm. By coupling expression of fluorescent receptors to neuronal activity, they specifically examined the pool of newly synthesized receptors. New receptors were delivered to spines several hours after behavioral training, which suggests that at the time of learning, changes occur in some spines that allow the capture of newly synthesized AMPA receptors at later time points.

N. Matsuo, L. Reijmers, M. Mayford, Spine-type-specific recruitment of newly synthesized AMPA receptors with learning. Science 319, 1104-1107 (2008). [Abstract] [Full Text]