Molecular Birth of a Memory

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Submitted by Miquel Bosch of the Bear Lab at the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory

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Miquel Bosch
Bear Lab, Picower Institute for Learning and Memory
Two-Photon Micrograph

"This is the chronology of the birth of a memory at a molecular level. The image shows a montage of time-lapse images of a synapse capturing essential signaling proteins, imaged by live two-photon microscopy. It is a series of images of the same dendritic spine from a living mouse neuron in a organotypic slice culture.  The neuron expresses DsRed2 (red) and PA-GFP-CaMKII-alpha (green).

We wanted to analyze the changes in protein turnover in single spines triggered by synaptic potentiation, by measuring the loss of fluorescence after photoactivation of PAGFP-tagged proteins. In this case, CaMKII appears to be slightly trapped in the spine after stimulation. This is an important protein for learning and memory, known to be necessary for synaptic potentiation."