Editors' ChoiceNeurobiology

Subunits Solve Synaptic Secret

Science's STKE  18 May 2004:
Vol. 2004, Issue 233, pp. tw182-TW182
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2332004TW182

Neuroscientists have long struggled with the conundrum that the same receptor can mediate opposing changes in synaptic efficacy, sometimes producing long-term potentiation (LTP) and sometimes producing long-term depression (LTD). Liu et al. (see the Perspective by Bliss and Schoepfer) found evidence in hippocampal brain slices for the presence of two mechanistically distinct plasticity mechanisms involving N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) subtype glutamate receptors with different subunit compositions. LTP requires NMDA receptors that contain the NR2A subunit, whereas LTD requires NMDA receptors containing NR2B. The results provide a rationale for regional differences in plasticity and for developmental changes in the polarity of synaptic change.

L. Liu, T. P. Wong, M. F. Pozza, K. Lingenhoehl, Y. Wang, M. Sheng, Y. P. Auberson, Y. T. Wang, Role of NMDA receptor subtypes in governing the direction of hippocampal synaptic plasticity. Science 304, 1021-1024 (2004). [Abstract] [Full Text]

T. Bliss, R. Schoepfer, Controlling the ups and downs of synaptic strength. Science 304, 973-974 (2004). [Summary] [Full Text]

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