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Neuron. 2000 Oct;28(1):245-59.

Increasing numbers of synaptic puncta during late-phase LTP: N-cadherin is synthesized, recruited to synaptic sites, and required for potentiation.

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Fishberg Research Center for Neurobiology and the Program in Cell Adhesion, The Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, New York 10029, USA.


It is an open question whether new synapses form during hippocampal LTP. Here, we show that late-phase LTP (L-LTP) is associated with a significant increase in numbers of synaptic puncta identified by synaptophysin and N-cadherin, an adhesion protein involved in synapse formation during development. During potentiation, protein levels of N-cadherin are significantly elevated and N-cadherin dimerization is enhanced. The increases in synaptic number and N-cadherin levels are dependent on cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) and protein synthesis, both of which are also required for L-LTP. Blocking N-cadherin adhesion prevents the induction of L-LTP, but not the early-phase of LTP (E-LTP). Our data suggest that N-cadherin is synthesized during the induction of L-LTP and recruited to newly forming synapses. N-cadherin may play a critical role in L-LTP by holding nascent pre-and postsynaptic membranes in apposition, enabling incipient synapses to acquire function and contribute to potentiation.

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