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Neuron. 2003 Jul 17;39(2):269-81.

Activity-dependent remodeling of presynaptic inputs by postsynaptic expression of activated CaMKII.

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Department of Biology, Volen National Center for Complex Systems, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA 02454, USA.


Competitive synaptic remodeling is an important feature of developmental plasticity, but the molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown. Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) can induce postsynaptic changes in synaptic strength. We show that postsynaptic CaMKII also generates structural synaptic rearrangements between cultured cortical neurons. Postsynaptic expression of activated CaMKII (T286D) increased the strength of transmission between pairs of pyramidal neuron by a factor of 4, through a modest increase in quantal amplitude and a larger increase in the number of synaptic contacts. Concurrently, T286D reduced overall excitatory synaptic density and increased the proportion of unconnected pairs. This suggests that connectivity from some synaptic partners was increased while other partners were eliminated. The enhancement of connectivity required activity and NMDA receptor activation, while the elimination did not. These data suggest that postsynaptic activation of CaMKII induces a structural remodeling of presynaptic inputs that favors the retention of active presynaptic partners.

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