The stabilization of long-term memories requires de novo protein synthesis. How can proteins, synthesized in the soma, act on specific synapses that participate in a given memory? We studied the dynamics of newly synthesized AMPA-type glutamate receptors (AMPARs) induced with learning using transgenic mice expressing the GluR1 subunit fused to green fluorescent protein (GFP-GluR1) under control of the c-fos promoter. We found learning-associated recruitment of newly synthesized GFP-GluR1 selectively to mushroom-type spines in adult hippocampal CA1 neurons 24 hours after fear conditioning. Our results are consistent with a "synaptic tagging" model to allow activated synapses to subsequently capture newly synthesized receptor and also demonstrate a critical functional distinction in the mushroom spines with learning.
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