It has recently been proposed by the author that protein kinase C regulates the expression of synaptic plasticity. In the present review it is suggested that this regulation involves a growth of presynaptic terminals. This proposal was based on the discovery that one of the substrates of protein kinase C, protein F1 (molecular mass = 47 kDa, pI = 4.5) is increased in its phosphorylation 5 min, 1 hr, and 3 days following long-term potentiation (LTP) in the intact hippocampal formation. No other phosphoprotein studied was altered by LTP. The amplitude or persistence of synaptic plasticity was directly related to the extent of protein F1 phosphorylation. As a critical control, it was shown that protein F1 was unaltered following synaptic activation that did not alter synaptic strength. Protein F1 in the hippocampus was also altered in its phosphorylation after an experience involving memory of a spatial environment. Phosphoprotein F1 may thus participate in both neurophysiological and behavioral events that evoke plasticity. The identification of the F1 substrate has recently been sought. The physical characteristics of protein F1 (mol wt., isoelectric point) indicate that it is the same as the B-50 protein and the growth protein, GAP-43. Protein F1 is then a brain-specific, synaptically enriched phosphoprotein. Recent evidence indicates that protein F1 is present in high concentration in growth cones of late embryonic rat brain in which postsynaptic specializations are not detected, suggesting a presynaptic locus. With respect to the identity of the F1 kinase, we have shown that protein F1, like B-50, is a substrate for protein kinase C, a Ca2+/phospholipid-dependent kinase. Activation of this enzyme by tumor-promoting phorbol esters can trigger cell growth and neurite extension. Recent evidence indicates a presynaptic localization of the enzyme. On the basis of the colocalization of enzyme and substrate in the presynaptic terminal it is proposed that protein kinase C control of the phosphorylation state of protein F1 may regulate the expression of synaptic plasticity via presynaptic terminal growth.
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