Cell and molecular analysis of long-term sensitization in Aplysia

V. F. Castellucci, W. N. Frost, P. Goelet, P. G. Montarolo, S. Schacher, J. A. Morgan, H. Blumenfeld, E. R. Kandel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


We have found that one cellular locus for the storage of the memory underlying short-term sensitization of the gill and siphon withdrawal reflex in Aplysia is the set of monosynaptic connections between the siphon sensory cells and the gill and siphon motor neurons. These connections also participate in the storage of memory underlying long-term sensitization. In animals that have undergone long-term sensitization, the amplitudes of the monosynaptic connections are significantly larger (2.2x) than the ones in control animals. To study the mechanisms of onset and retention of long-term synaptic facilitation that underly long-term sensitization and the role of protein synthesis in long-term memory, we have developed two types of reduced preparations: (1) the intact reflex isolated from the remainder of the animal, and (2) a dissociated cell culture system in which the monosynaptic component (sensory neurons and motor neurons) of the neuronal circuit mediating the withdrawal reflex is reconstituted. We found that protein synthesis inhibitors, such as anisomycin or emetine, and RNA synthesis inhibitors, such as actinomycin D or alpha-amanitin, blocked long-term facilitation without interferring with short-term facilitation. These results suggest that the acquisition of long-term memory may require the expression of genes and the synthesis of proteins not needed for short-term memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-357
Number of pages9
JournalJournal de Physiologie
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1986
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology


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