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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Mar 19;99(6):3962-7. Epub 2002 Mar 12.

Somatic action potentials are sufficient for late-phase LTP-related cell signaling.

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Laboratory of Cellular and Synaptic Neurophysiology, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


A question of critical importance confronting neuroscientists today is how biochemical signals initiated at a synapse are conveyed to the nucleus. This problem is particularly relevant to the generation of the late phases of long-term potentiation (LTP). Here we provide evidence that some signaling pathways previously associated with late-LTP can be activated in hippocampal CA1 neurons without synaptic activity; somatic action potentials, induced by backfiring the cells, were found to be sufficient for phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2 and cAMP response element-binding protein, as well as for induction of zif268. Furthermore, such antidromic stimulation was adequate to rescue "tagged" synapses (early-LTP) from decay. These results show that a synapse-to-nucleus signal is not necessary for late-phase LTP-associated signaling cascades in the regulation of gene expression.

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