Calcium-dependent mechanisms and long-term potentiation: Role of NMDA receptors, voltage-dependent calcium channels and persistent protein kinase activity

Kimberly Michele Huber, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Long-term potentiation (LTP) is a rapidly induced and long lasting increase in synaptic strength and is the leading cellular model for learning and memory in the mammalian brain. LTP was first identified in the hippocampus, a structure implicated in memory formation. LTP induction is dependent on postsynaptic Ca2+ increases mediated by N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Activation of other postsynaptic routes of Ca2+ entry, such as voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels (VDCCs) have subsequently been shown to induce a long-lasting increase in synaptic strength. However, it is unknown if VDCC-induced LTP utilized similar cellular mechanisms as the classical NMDA receptor-dependent LTP and if these two forms of LTP display similar properties. This dissertation determines the similarities and differences in VDCC and NMDA receptor-dependent LTP in area CA1 of hippocampal slices and demonstrates that VDCCs and NMDA receptors activate similar cellular mechanisms, such as protein kinases, to induce LTP. However, VDCC and NMDA receptor activated LTP induction mechanisms are compartmentalized in the postsynaptic neuron, such that they do not interact. Consistent with activation properties of NMDA receptors and VDCCs, NMDA receptor and VDCC-dependent LTP have different induction properties. In contrast to NMDA-dependent LTP, VDCC-induced potentiation does not require evoked presynaptic stimulation or display input specificity. These results indicate that there are two different routes of postsynaptic Ca2+ which can induce LTP and the compartmentation of VDCCs and NMDA receptors and/or their resulting Ca2+ increases may account for the distinction between these LTP induction mechanisms. One of the molecular targets for postsynaptic Ca2+ that is required for the induction of LTP is protein kinases. Evidence for the role of protein kinase activity in LTP expression is either correlational or controversial. We have utilized a broad range and potent inhibitors of protein kinases to systematically examine the temporal requirement for protein kinases in the induction and expression of LTP. Our results indicate that there is a critical period of persistent protein kinase activity required for LTP induction activated by tetanic stimulation and extending until 20 min after HFS. In addition, our results suggest that protein kinase activity during and immediately after HFS is not sufficient for LTP induction. These results provide evidence for persistent and/or Ca2+ independent protein kinase activity involvement in LTP induction.

Subject Area

Neurology|Biochemistry|Cellular biology

Recommended Citation

Huber, Kimberly Michele, "Calcium-dependent mechanisms and long-term potentiation: Role of NMDA receptors, voltage-dependent calcium channels and persistent protein kinase activity" (1995). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI9532505.