A multifarious exploration of synaptic tagging and capture hypothesis in synaptic plasticity: Development of an integrated mathematical model and computational experiments

J Theor Biol. 2023 Jan 7:556:111326. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2022.111326. Epub 2022 Oct 21.


The synaptic tagging and capture (STC) hypothesis not only explain the integration and association of synaptic activities, but also the formation of learning and memory. The synaptic pathways involved in the synaptic tagging and capture phenomenon are called STC pathways. The STC hypothesis provides a potential explanation of the neuronal and synaptic processes underlying the synaptic consolidation of memories. Several mechanisms and molecules have been proposed to explain the process of memory allocation and synaptic tags, respectively. However, a clear link between the STC hypothesis and memory allocation is still missing because the encoding of memories in neural circuits is mainly associated with strongly recurrently connected groups of neurons. To explore the mechanisms of potential synaptic tagging candidates and their involvement in the process of memory allocation, we develop a mathematical model for a single dendritic spine based on five essential criteria of a synaptic tag. By developing a mathematical model, we attempt to understand the roles of the potentially critical molecular networks underlying the STC and the essential attributes of a synaptic tag. We include essential memory molecules in the STC model that have been identified in earlier studies as crucial for STC pathways. CaMKII activation is critical for the setting of the initial tag; however, coordinated activities with other kinases and the biochemical pathways are necessary for the tag to be stable. PKA modulates NMDAR-mediated Ca2+ signalling. Similarly, PKA and ERK crosstalk is essential for Ca2+ - mediated protein synthesis during l-LTP. Our theoretical model explains the quantitative contribution of Tags and protein synthesis during l-LTP in synaptic strength.

Keywords: CaMKII-NMDAR complex; F-actin; Late-Long term potentiation; Memory allocation; Synaptic Tagging.

MeSH terms

  • Long-Term Potentiation / physiology
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Neuronal Plasticity* / physiology
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate / metabolism
  • Synapses* / physiology


  • Receptors, N-Methyl-D-Aspartate