microRNA Regulation of Synaptic Plasticity
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- Smalheiser, N.R. & Lugli, G. Neuromol Med (2009) 11: 133. doi:10.1007/s12017-009-8065-2
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microRNAs play an important role in regulating synaptic plasticity. For example, microRNAs target (and are targeted by) plasticity mediators such as CREB, MECP2, and FMRP. As well, specific microRNAs have been shown to be expressed within dendrites, where they regulate protein translation of targets mediating dendritic growth. Components of the RISC machinery have been implicated in long-term memory in Drosophila. Here, we review evidence from studies of adult mouse forebrain supporting a model wherein synaptic stimulation (above a threshold value) increases calcium within dendritic spines, activates calpain, and activates and releases dicer from the postsynaptic density. Dicer processes local pre-miRs into mature miRNAs that are incorporated into RISC complexes within or near the dendritic spine, and that bind available target mRNAs in the vicinity. These may repress protein translation under resting conditions, yet permit a phasic burst of translation to occur transiently following subsequent synaptic activity. Loaded RISC complexes that are not bound to local mRNAs may serve to bind and trap mRNAs that are being transported down dendrites. Thus, locally formed microRNAs may mark the location of previously activated synapses and perform a type of synaptic tagging and capture.