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Fatty Acids and Synaptic Strength

Science  05 Apr 2002:
Vol. 296, Issue 5565, pp. 17
DOI: 10.1126/science.296.5565.17c

Changes at synapses in the brain are thought to provide the cellular basis for learning and memory. The AMPA-type (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid) receptors for the excitatory transmitter glutamate are anchored in place at synapses through interactions with a scaffolding protein known as postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95), which is known to be posttranslationally modified by addition of the fatty acid palmitate. El-Husseini et al. report that synaptic activity (corresponding to release of glutamate by the presynaptic neuron) enhances palmitate cycling on PSD-95 in cultured hippocampal neurons. Pharmacological inhibition of palmitoylation breaks up PSD-95 clusters and reduced AMPA receptor-mediated signaling. Thus, activity-dependent depalmitoylation of PSD-95 provides a new mechanism for the regulation of synaptic function.—LBR

Cell108, 849 (2002).

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