The maintenance phase of memory-related long-term facilitation (LTF) of synapses between sensory and motor neurons of the gill-withdrawal reflex of Aplysia depends on a serotonin (5-HT)-triggered presynaptic upregulation of CPEB, a functional prion that regulates local protein synthesis at the synapse. The mechanisms whereby serotonin regulates CPEB levels in presynaptic sensory neurons are not known. Here, we describe a sensory neuron-specific microRNA 22 (miR-22) that has multiple binding sites on the mRNA of CPEB and inhibits it in the basal state. Serotonin triggers MAPK/Erk-dependent downregulation of miR-22, thereby upregulating the expression of CPEB, which in turn regulates, through functional CPE elements, the presynaptic expression of atypical PKC (aPKC), another candidate regulator of memory maintenance. Our findings support a model in which the neurotransmitter-triggered downregulation of miR-22 coordinates the regulation of genes contributing synergistically to the long-term maintenance of memory-related synaptic plasticity.
Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.