A fresh look at the role of CaMKII in hippocampal synaptic plasticity and memory

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Advances in molecular, genetic, and cell biological techniques have allowed neuroscientists to delve into the cellular machinery of learning and memory. The calcium and calmodulin-dependent kinase type II (CaMKII) is one of the best candidates for being a molecular component of the learning and memory machinery in the mammalian brain. It is present in abundance at synapses and its enzymatic properties and responsiveness to intracellular Ca2+ fit a model whereby Ca2+ currents activate the kinase and lead to changes in synaptic efficacy. Indeed, such plastic properties of synapses are thought to be important for memory formation. Genetic analysis of the alpha isoform of CaMKII in mice support the hypothesis that CaMKII signaling is required to initiate the formation of new spatial memories in the hippocampus. CaMKII is also required for the correct induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampus, consistent with the widely held belief that LTP is a mechanism for learning and memory. Recent cell biological, genetic, and physiological analyses suggest that one of the cellular explanations for LTP and CaMKII function might be the trafficking of AMPA-type receptors to synapses in response to neural activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-233
Number of pages11
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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