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J Neurosci. 1999 Jun 1;19(11):4314-24.

A role of actin filament in synaptic transmission and long-term potentiation.

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Department of Neuroscience and Volen Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts 02454, USA.


The role of actin filaments in synaptic function has been studied in the CA1 region of the rat hippocampal slice. Bath application (2 hr) of the actin polymerization inhibitor latrunculin B did not substantially affect the shape of dendrites or spines. However, this and other drugs that affect actin did affect synaptic function. Bath-applied latrunculin B reduced the synaptic response. Several lines of evidence indicate that a component of this effect is presynaptic. To specifically test for a postsynaptic role for actin, latrunculin B or phalloidin, an actin filament stabilizer, was perfused into the postsynaptic neuron. The magnitude of long-term potentiation (LTP) was decreased at times when baseline transmission was not yet affected. Longer applications produced a decrease in baseline AMPA receptor (AMPAR)-mediated transmission. The magnitude of the NMDA receptor-mediated transmission was unaffected, indicating a specific effect on the AMPAR. These results suggest that postsynaptic actin filaments are involved in a dynamic process required to maintain AMPAR-mediated transmission and to enhance it during LTP.

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