Calcium(II) ion calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II: Messenger-RNA in developing rat brain

Karl Edmund Burgin, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Ca$\sp{++}$/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaM-KII) is highly concentrated in mammalian brain, comprising as much as 2% of the total protein in some regions. In forebrain, CaM-KII has been shown to be enriched in postsynaptic structures where it has been implicated in maintaining cytoskeletal structure, and more recently in signal transduction mechanisms and processes underlying learning and memory. CaM-KII appears to exist as a holoenzyme composed of two related yet distinct subunits, alpha and beta. The ratio of the subunits in the holoenzyme varies with different brain regions and to some degree with subcellular fractions. The two subunits also display distinct developmental profiles. Levels of alpha subunit are not evident at birth but increase dramatically during postnatal development, while levels of beta subunit are readily detected at birth and only gradual increase postnatally. The distinct regional, subcellular and developmental distribution of the two subunits of CaM-KII have prompted us to examine factors involved in regulating the synthesis of the subunit proteins. This dissertation addresses the regional and developmental expression of the mRNAs for the individual subunits using in situ hybridization histochemistry and northern slot-blot analysis. By comparing the developmental profile of each mRNA with that of its respective protein, we have determined that initiation of gene transcription is likely the primary site for regulating CaM-KII protein levels. Furthermore, the distinct cytoarchitecture of the hippocampus has allowed us to demonstrate that the alpha, but not beta subunit mRNA is localized in dendrites of certain forebrain neurons. The localization of alpha subunit mRNA at postsynaptic structures, in concert with the accumulation of subunit protein, suggests that dendritic synthesis of CaM-KII alpha subunit may be important for maintaining postsynaptic structure and/or function.

Subject Area

Neurology|Molecular biology

Recommended Citation

Burgin, Karl Edmund, "Calcium(II) ion calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II: Messenger-RNA in developing rat brain" (1989). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9016337.