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Kaang Discovers New Protein that Enhances Memory

  • May 18, 2007
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Professor Kaang Bong-kuin's team in the Department of Bilological Sciences has discovered a new protein critical in preserving long-term memory and which may help cure Alzheimer's.

Kaang held a press conference May 17th and said his team discovered a protein that helps maintain long-term memory in humans. The team discovered that the CAMAP proteins in nerve cells act as a medium for converting external stimuli into nerve signals, allowing people to hold onto memory for long periods of time.

Repeated pulses of serotonin (5-HT) induce long-term facilitation (LTF) of the synapses between sensory and motor neurons of the gill-withdrawal reflex in Aplysia.

To explore how apCAM downregulation at the plasma membrane and CREB-mediated transcription in the nucleus, both of which are required for the formation of LTF, might relate to each other, the research team cloned an apCAM-associated protein (CAMAP) by yeast two-hybrid screening.

They found that 5-HT signaling at the synapse activates PKA which in turn phosphorylates CAMAP to induce the dissociation of CAMAP from apCAM and the subsequent translocation of CAMAP into the nucleus of sensory neurons.

In the nucleus, CAMAP acts as a transcriptional coactivator for CREB1 and is essential for the activation of ApC/EBP required for the initiation of LTF. Combined, the research team’s data suggest that CAMAP is a retrograde signaling component that translocates from activated synapses to the nucleus during synapse-specific LTF.

The paper on this research titled “Nuclear Translocation of CAM-associated Protein Activates Transcription for Long-Term Facilitation in Aplysia” was published by the renowned journal Cell on May 17th.

May 17, 2007
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