The hippocampus is an ideal system to study synaptic plasticity in the context of learning and memory. The induction, expression, and interaction of long-term potentiation (LTP) as well as long-term depression (LTD) are essential elements for the functioning of complex networks in information processing and storage. Here we investigated whether different loci at the apical dendritic branch of CA1 pyramidal neurons are characterized by different capabilities to induce, express, and interact with LTP and LTD in hippocampal slices in vitro. We found that high-frequency stimulation resulted in longer-lasting forms of LTP in proximal and distal parts of the apical dendrites, whereas low-frequency stimulation induced longer-lasting LTD in distal but not at proximal parts. Interestingly, processes of "synaptic cross-tagging" could be described for any form of LTP transformation from early-stage LTP (E-LTP) into late-phase LTP (L-LTP)in distal and proximal parts, but for LTD, only at the distal part but not for the proximal part, although low-frequency stimulation at the proximal input, which resulted here only in a short-term depression, was paradoxically able to reinforce E-LTP into L-LTP at distal parts. Wehave identified protein kinase Mzeta (PKMzeta) as the LTP-specific, synthesized plasticity-related protein transforming E-LTP into L-LTP by strong low-frequency stimulation in the apical CA dendrite by cross-tagging mechanisms.
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