A model of synaptic memory: a CaMKII/PP1 switch that potentiates transmission by organizing an AMPA receptor anchoring assembly

Neuron. 2001 Aug 2;31(2):191-201. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(01)00364-6.


Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) is localized in the postsynaptic density (PSD) and is necessary for LTP induction. Much has been learned about the autophosphorylation of CaMKII and its dephosphorylation by PSD protein phosphatase-1 (PP1). Here, we show how the CaMKII/PP1 system could function as an energy-efficient, bistable switch that could be activated during LTP induction and remain active despite protein turnover. We also suggest how recently discovered binding interactions could provide a structural readout mechanism: the autophosphorylated state of CaMKII binds tightly to the NMDAR and forms, through CaMKII-actinin-actin-(4.1/SAP97) linkages, additional sites for anchoring AMPARs at synapses. The proposed model has substantial experimental support and elucidates principles by which a local protein complex could produce stable information storage and readout.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Long-Term Potentiation
  • Mathematics
  • Models, Neurological*
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Phosphatase 1
  • Receptors, AMPA / physiology*
  • Synapses / physiology*
  • Synaptic Transmission / physiology*


  • Receptors, AMPA
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinases
  • Phosphoprotein Phosphatases
  • Protein Phosphatase 1