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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2003 Apr 29;358(1432):721-6.

Expression mechanisms underlying long-term potentiation: a postsynaptic view.

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Departments of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


This review summarizes the various experiments that have been carried out to determine if the expression of long-term potentiation (LTP), in particular N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor-dependent LTP, is presynaptic or postsynaptic. Evidence for a presynaptic expression mechanism comes primarily from experiments reporting that glutamate overflow is increased during LTP and from experiments showing that the failure rate decreases during LTP. However, other experimental approaches, such as monitoring synaptic glutamate release by recording astrocytic glutamate transporter currents, have failed to detect any change in glutamate release during LTP. In addition, the discovery of silent synapses, in which LTP rapidly switches on alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor function at NMDA-receptor-only synapses, provides a postsynaptic mechanism for the decrease in failures during LTP. It is argued that the preponderance of evidence favours a postsynaptic expression mechanism, whereby NMDA receptor activation results in the rapid recruitment of AMPA receptors as well as a covalent modification of synaptic AMPA receptors.

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