The Role of Functional Prions in the Persistence of Memory Storage
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Cellular and molecular studies of both implicit and explicit memory suggest that experience-dependent modulation of synaptic strength and structure is a fundamental mechanism by which these memories are encoded and stored within the brain. Implicit and explicit memory share in common several molecular steps and an overall molecular logic. Both have two general stages are created in at least two stages: a short-term phase that does not require the synthesis of new protein and a long-term phase that does. Short-term memory involves covalent modification of preexisting proteins and changes in the strength of preexisting synaptic connections, while long-term memory requires transcriptional activation mediated by CREB and the growth of new connections. The distinction between short- and long-term memory and the recruitment of a CREB-mediated activation of gene expression leading to the growth of new synaptic connections have turned out to be almost universal. Maintenance of long-term memory involves, in addition, the functional prion CPEB that regulates local protein synthesis. The self-sustaining, prion-like, activation of CPEB3 appears to be a quite general mechanism for the perpetuation of memory.
KeywordsYeast Prion Local Protein Synthesis Synaptic Growth Cytoplasmic Polyadenylation Element Binding Protein Prion Domain
Eric R. Kandel and Elias Pavlopoulos are supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Irina Derkatch is supported by National Institutes of Health grant 7 R01 GM070934.
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