Synapses Call the Shots

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Science  27 Oct 2000:
Vol. 290, Issue 5492, pp. 736-738
DOI: 10.1126/science.290.5492.736

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Neuroscience research is shedding light on how neurons delegate their protein synthesis, shipping some messenger RNAs out to the dendrites, where they are translated to protein under the control of local synapses. Indeed, it appears that finely controlled, decentralized protein production may contribute to learning and memory in a way that neuroscientists could scarcely have imagined 20 years ago. As researchers presss on, they are filling in a picture of a complex loop of communication and supply, with synapses acting as local managers wielding more power than anyone might have imagined, to get what they need for carrying out the critical task of storing memories.