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Fluorescence and FRET images of representative spines from hippocampal neurons expressing mScarlet-eEF1B2 and mGFP-eEF1A2 or mGFP as control (Imatge: IBMB-CSIC).

Scientists describe a mechanism that coordinates two key processes for learning and memory

A study led by the Institute of Molecular Biology of Barcelona (IBMB), based in the Barcelona Science Park, has described a molecular mechanism that coordinates protein synthesis and remodeling of the actin cytoskeleton, key processes for synaptic plasticity, which is essential for learning and memory. The work, published in the journal Science Signaling, sheds light on the formation of neural circuits and the genesis of multiple neurological pathologies, such as autism or Alzheimer’s disease.

Protein synthesis and structural remodeling in dendritic spines are critical to long-lasting synaptic plasticity (changes in neuronal connectivity) that underlies learning and memory. These processes are tightly controlled, however, and protein synthesis appears to be initially suppressed to provide synaptic stability.

Researchers from IBMB-CSIC -a research institute of Spanish National Research Council (CSIC)– found a common regulatory link that coordinates these processes. In mouse hippocampal neurons, glutamate-induced phosphorylation of the translation elongation factor eEF1A2 triggered its dissociation both from its activator, thereby transiently inhibiting protein synthesis, and from actin fibers, thereby facilitating actin motility and cytoskeletal remodeling.

The findings provide deeper mechanistic insight into the association of protein synthesis with synaptic plasticity.

» Reference article:
Mònica B. Mendoza, Sara Gutierrez, Raúl Ortiz, David F. Moreno, Maria Dermit, Martin Dodel, Elena Rebollo, Miquel Bosch, Faraz K. Mardakheh y Carme Gallego. “The elongation factor eEF1A2 controls translation and actin dynamics in dendritic spines”. Science Signaling. DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.abf5594

» For further information: IBMB-CSIC website [+]