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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Mar 19;99(6):4037-42. Epub 2002 Mar 12.

Glial protein S100B modulates long-term neuronal synaptic plasticity.

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Laboratories for Behavioral Genetics and Neuronal Circuit Dynamics, and Neuronal Circuit Mechanisms Research Group, Brain Science Institute (BSI), Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (RIKEN), 2-1 Hirosawa, Wako-shi, Saitama 351-0198, Japan.


Glial cells are traditionally regarded as elements for structural support and ionic homeostasis, but have recently attracted attention as putative integral elements of the machinery involved in synaptic transmission and plasticity. Here, we demonstrate that calcium-binding protein S100B, which is synthesized in considerable amounts in astrocytes (a major glial cell subtype), modulates long-term synaptic plasticity. Mutant mice devoid of S100B developed normally and had no detectable abnormalities in the cytoarchitecture of the brain. These mutant mice, however, had strengthened synaptic plasticity as identified by enhanced long-term potentiation (LTP) in the hippocampal CA1 region. Perfusion of hippocampal slices with recombinant S100B proteins reversed the levels of LTP in the mutant slices to those of the wild-type slices, indicating that S100B might act extracellularly. In addition to enhanced LTP, mutant mice had enhanced spatial memory in the Morris water maze test and enhanced fear memory in the contextual fear conditioning. The results indicate that S100B is a glial modulator of neuronal synaptic plasticity and strengthen the notion that glial-neuronal interaction is important for information processing in the brain.

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