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Nature. 2009 Mar 19;458(7236):299-304. doi: 10.1038/nature07842.

Activation of CaMKII in single dendritic spines during long-term potentiation.

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Department of Neurobiology, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA.


Calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII) plays a central part in long-term potentiation (LTP), which underlies some forms of learning and memory. Here we monitored the spatiotemporal dynamics of CaMKII activation in individual dendritic spines during LTP using two-photon fluorescence lifetime imaging microscopy, in combination with two-photon glutamate uncaging. Induction of LTP and associated spine enlargement in single spines triggered transient ( approximately 1 min) CaMKII activation restricted to the stimulated spines. CaMKII in spines was specifically activated by NMDA receptors and L-type voltage-sensitive calcium channels, presumably by nanodomain Ca(2+) near the channels, in response to glutamate uncaging and depolarization, respectively. The high degree of compartmentalization and channel specificity of CaMKII signalling allow stimuli-specific spatiotemporal patterns of CaMKII signalling and may be important for synapse-specificity of synaptic plasticity.

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