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Learn Mem. 1998 Mar-Apr;4(6):496-509.

Analysis of sequence-dependent interactions between transient calcium and transmitter stimuli in activating adenylyl cyclase in Aplysia: possible contribution to CS--US sequence requirement during conditioning.

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  • 1Department of Pharmacology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore 21201-1559, USA.


An important recent insight in a number of neurobiological systems is that during learning, individual dually regulated proteins with associative properties function as critical sites of stimulus convergence. During conditioning in Aplysia, the Ca2+ /calmodulin-sensitive adenylyl cyclase (AC) in mechanosensory neurons serves as a molecular site of interaction between Ca2+ and serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)]-two signals that represent the CS and US in these cells. Conditioning requires that the CS and US be paired within a narrow time window and in the appropriate sequence. AC shows an analogous sequence preference: It is more effectively activated when a pulse of Ca2+ precedes a pulse of 5-HT than when the 5-HT precedes Ca2+. One mechanism that contributes to this sequence preference is that Ca2+/calmodulin binding to AC accelerates the rate of AC activation by receptor-Gs. We have identified two additional properties of AC activation that would cause pairing with Ca2+ preceding 5-HT to be more effective than simultaneous pairing or pairing with the reciprocal sequence: (1) Activation of Aplysia AC by a Ca2+ pulse rose with a delay compared with activation by a 5-HT pulse. (2) A late pulse of Ca2+, which arrived after 5-HT, acted, via calmodulin, to accelerate the decay of AC activation by receptor-Gs. Together, these activation properties of AC may contribute to the CS-US sequence requirement of classical conditioning.

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