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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Synaptic plasticity in Drosophila memory and hyperexcitable mutants: role of cAMP cascade.

Activity-dependent synaptic plasticity has been implicated in the refinement and modification of neural circuits during development and learning. Previous studies show that activity-induced facilitation and potentiation are disrupted at larval neuromuscular junctions in the memory mutants dunce (dnc) and rutabaga (rut) of Drosophila. The diminished learning-memory capacity and synaptic transmission plasticity have been associated with altered cAMP levels since dnc affects the cAMP-specific phosphodiesterase and rut affects adenylate cyclase. In this study, the morphology of larval motor axon terminals was examined by anti-HRP immunohistochemistry. It was found that the numbers of terminal varicosities and branches were increased in dnc mutants, which have elevated cAMP concentrations. Such increase was suppressed in dnc rut double mutants by rut mutations, which reduce cAMP synthesis. More profuse projections of larval motor axons have also been reported in double-mutant combinations of ether à go-go (eag) and Shaker (Sh) alleles, which display greatly enhanced nerve activity as a result of reduction in different K+ currents. Therefore, we examined combinations of dnc and rut with eag and Sh mutations to explore the possible relation between activity- and cAMP-induced morphological changes. We found that the expanded projections in dnc were further enhanced in double mutants of dnc with either eag or Sh, an effect that could again be suppressed by rut. The results provide evidence for altered plasticity of synaptic morphology in memory mutants dnc and rut and suggest a role of cAMP cascade in mediating activity-dependent synaptic plasticity.[1]


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