Postsynaptic calcium is sufficient for potentiation of hippocampal synaptic transmission

Science  07 Oct 1988:
Vol. 242, Issue 4875, pp. 81-84
DOI: 10.1126/science.2845577


Brief repetitive activation of excitatory synapses in the hippocampus leads to an increase in synaptic strength that lasts for many hours. This long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic transmission is the most compelling cellular model in the vertebrate brain for learning and memory. The critical role of postsynaptic calcium in triggering LTP has been directly examined using three types of experiment. First, nitr-5, a photolabile nitrobenzhydrol tetracarboxylate calcium chelator, which releases calcium in response to ultraviolet light, was used. Photolysis of nitr-5 injected into hippocampal CA1 pyramidal cells resulted in a large enhancement of synaptic transmission. Second, in agreement with previous results, buffering intracellular calcium at low concentrations blocked LTP. Third, depolarization of the postsynaptic membrane so that calcium entry is suppressed prevented LTP. Taken together, these results demonstrate that an increase in postsynaptic calcium is necessary to induce LTP and sufficient to potentiate synaptic transmission.

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