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The self-sustained regulation of PKMζ activity during the maintenance of L-LTP

What could be the mechanism of enduring synaptic efficacies despite the fast turnover of proteins at synapses? The de-novo synthesis of plasticity related proteins may partially provide the answer. However, the newly synthesized proteins must be activated before they are functional which requires a persistent signal of second messenger. In contrast, to conventional kinases the PKMζ is an autonomous and constitutively active kinase, which does not require a second messenger for its sustained activity. Previous experimental results have shown that inhibiting PKMζ activity can effectively reverse the established L-LTP (3–5 hr in slices and 22 hrs in vivo) [13]. Here, we explore a question of what could be the mechanism to regulate the PKMζ activity during the maintenance of L-LTP. We propose a self-sustained regulation of PKMζ activity through another autonomously active kinase PDK1. Here, our specific instantiation of an activity regulation loop is the PKMζ-PDK1 molecular pair. The PDK1 regulates the PKMζ activity and its stability through a phosphorylation cycle [4]. We show that the PKMζ-PDK1 loop acts as a bistable switch. Our results imply that L-LTP induction should produce an increase in the total amount of PKMζ at active synapses, and this increase in PKMζ is maintained through activity regulation in the enduring phase of L-LTP (Fig 1). Our results also show that blocking the PKMζ activity in a dose dependent manner can effectively abolish the increase in total amount of PKMζ, (Fig 2) which is in consistent with previous experimental findings [1, 2].

Figure 1

Bistability characteristics of the PKMζ-PDK1 molecular pair.

Figure 2

Blocking the PKMζ activity during maintenance of L-LTP.


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Correspondence to Naveed Aslam.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Aslam, N., Shouval, H.Z. The self-sustained regulation of PKMζ activity during the maintenance of L-LTP. BMC Neurosci 9, P54 (2008).

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  • Active Kinase
  • Sustained Activity
  • Previous Experimental Result
  • Synaptic Efficacy
  • Fast Turnover