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J Biol Chem. 1998 Aug 14;273(33):20689-92.

Autophosphorylation-dependent targeting of calcium/ calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II by the NR2B subunit of the N-methyl- D-aspartate receptor.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Center for Molecular Neuroscience, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-0615, USA.


Activation and Thr286 autophosphorylation of calcium/calmodulindependent kinase II (CaMKII) following Ca2+ influx via N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA)-type glutamate receptors is essential for hippocampal long term potentiation (LTP), a widely investigated cellular model of learning and memory. Here, we show that NR2B, but not NR2A or NR1, subunits of NMDA receptors are responsible for autophosphorylation-dependent targeting of CaMKII. CaMKII and NMDA receptors colocalize in neuronal dendritic spines, and a CaMKII.NMDA receptor complex can be isolated from brain extracts. Autophosphorylation induces direct high-affinity binding of CaMKII to a 50 amino acid domain in the NR2B cytoplasmic tail; little or no binding is observed to NR2A and NR1 cytoplasmic tails. Specific colocalization of CaMKII with NR2B-containing NMDA receptors in transfected cells depends on receptor activation, Ca2+ influx, and Thr286 autophosphorylation. Translocation of CaMKII because of interaction with the NMDA receptor Ca2+ channel may potentiate kinase activity and provide exquisite spatial and temporal control of postsynaptic substrate phosphorylation.

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