Inhibitors of protein and RNA synthesis block structural changes that accompany long-term heterosynaptic plasticity in Aplysia

Neuron. 1992 Oct;9(4):749-58. doi: 10.1016/0896-6273(92)90037-e.


Synaptic connections between the sensory and motor neurons of Aplysia in culture undergo long-term facilitation in response to serotonin (5-HT) and long-term depression in response to FMRFamide. These long-term functional changes are dependent on the synthesis of macromolecules during the period in which the transmitter is applied and are accompanied by structural changes. There is an increase and a decrease, respectively, in the number of sensory neuron varicosities in response to 5-HT and FMRFamide. To determine whether macromolecular synthesis is also required for the structural changes, we examined in parallel the effects of inhibitors of protein (anisomycin) or RNA (actinomycin D) synthesis on the structural and functional changes. We have found that anisomycin and actinomycin D block both the enduring alterations in varicosity number and the long-lasting changes in synaptic potential. These results indicate that macromolecular synthesis is required for expression of the long-lasting structural changes in the sensory cells and that this synthesis is correlated with the long-term functional modulation of sensorimotor synapses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anisomycin / pharmacology*
  • Aplysia
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dactinomycin / pharmacology*
  • Evoked Potentials / drug effects
  • FMRFamide
  • Ganglia / physiology
  • Motor Neurons / cytology
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Neuronal Plasticity / drug effects*
  • Neurons, Afferent / cytology
  • Neurons, Afferent / drug effects*
  • Neurons, Afferent / physiology
  • Neuropeptides / pharmacology
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology
  • Serotonin / pharmacology
  • Synapses / drug effects*
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synapses / ultrastructure


  • Neuropeptides
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Dactinomycin
  • Serotonin
  • FMRFamide
  • Anisomycin