The signaling pathways involved in the molecular mechanism of memory are largely unknown. In September 21 Cell, Hyejin Kang and colleagues at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Vollum Institute, Oregon, US, show that the neural activity signaled by calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase IV (CaMKIV) in the neuronal nucleus plays an important role in the consolidation and retention of long-term memories.

Kang et al. generated transgenic mice in which the expression of a dominant-negative form of CaMKIV was restricted to the postnatal forebrain. They found that the process by which enduring memories are established — the activation of genes that trigger protein synthesis (hippocampal late LTP) — was impaired, whereas basic synaptic function and early LTP remained unaffected. These deficits correlated with impairments in long-term memory, specifically in its consolidation/retention phase but not in the acquisition phase (Cell 2001, 106:771–783).

"We believe that further studies will...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to more than 35 years of archives, as well as TS Digest, digital editions of The Scientist, feature stories, and much more!
Already a member?