The cellular properties of long-term potentiation (LTP) following pairing of pre- and postsynaptic activity were examined at a known glutamatergic synapse in the leech, specifically between the pressure (P) mechanosensory and anterior pagoda (AP) neurons. Stimulation of the presynaptic P cell (25 Hz) concurrent with a 2 nA depolarization of the postsynaptic AP cell significantly potentiated the P-to-AP excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) in an N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor (NMDAR)-dependent manner based on inhibitory effects of the NMDAR antagonist MK801 and inhibition of the NMDAR glycine binding site by 7-chlorokynurenic acid. LTP was blocked by injection of bis-(o-aminophenoxy)-N, N,N′,N′-tetraacetic acid (BAPTA) into the postsynaptic (AP) cell, indicating a requirement for postsynaptic elevation of intracellular Ca 2+. Autocamtide-2-related inhibitory peptide (AIP), a specific inhibitor of Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent kinase II (CaMKII), and Rp-cAMP, an inhibitor of protein kinase A (PKA), also blocked pairing-induced potentiation, indicating a requirement for activation of CaMKII and PKA. Interestingly, application of AIP during pairing resulted in significantly depressed synaptic transmission. Co-application of AIP with the protein phosphatase inhibitor okadaic acid restored synaptic transmission to baseline levels, suggesting an interaction between CaMKII and protein phosphatases during induction of activity-dependent synaptic plasticity. When postsynaptic activity preceded presynaptic activity, NMDAR-dependent long-term depression (LTD) was observed that was blocked by okadaic acid. Postsynaptic injection of botulinum toxin blocked P-to-AP potentiation while postsynaptic injection of pep2-SVKI, an inhibitor of AMPA receptor endocytosis, inhibited LTD, supporting the hypothesis that glutamate receptor trafficking contributes to both LTP and LTD at the P-to-AP synapse in the leech.
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