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Neuron. 2002 Dec 19;36(6):1103-14.

alpha- and betaCaMKII. Inverse regulation by neuronal activity and opposing effects on synaptic strength.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Physiology, Beckman Center, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


We show that alpha and betaCaMKII are inversely regulated by activity in hippocampal neurons in culture: the alpha/beta ratio shifts toward alpha during increased activity and beta during decreased activity. The swing in ratio is approximately 5-fold and may help tune the CaMKII holoenzyme to changing intensities of Ca(2+) signaling. The regulation of CaMKII levels uses distinguishable pathways, one responsive to NMDA receptor blockade that controls alphaCaMKII alone, the other responsive to AMPA receptor blockade and involving betaCaMKII and possibly further downstream effects of betaCaMKII on alphaCaMKII. Overexpression of alphaCaMKII or betaCaMKII resulted in opposing effects on unitary synaptic strength as well as mEPSC frequency that could account in part for activity-dependent effects observed with chronic blockade of AMPA receptors. Regulation of CaMKII subunit composition may be important for both activity-dependent synaptic homeostasis and plasticity.

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