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Synaptic vesicle secretion requires the assembly of fusogenic SNARE complexes. Consequently proteins that regulate SNARE complex formation can significantly impact synaptic strength. The SNARE binding protein tomosyn has been shown to potently inhibit exocytosis by sequestering SNARE proteins in nonfusogenic complexes. The tomosyn-SNARE interaction is regulated by protein kinase A (PKA), an enzyme implicated in learning and memory, suggesting tomosyn could be an important effector in PKA-dependent synaptic plasticity. We tested this hypothesis in Drosophila, in which the role of the PKA pathway in associative learning has been well established. We first determined that panneuronal tomosyn knockdown by RNAi enhanced synaptic strength at the Drosophila larval neuromuscular junction, by increasing the evoked response duration. We next assayed memory performance 3 min (early memory) and 3 h (late memory) after aversive olfactory learning. Whereas early memory was unaffected by tomosyn knockdown, late memory was reduced by 50%. Late memory is a composite of stable and labile components. Further analysis determined that tomosyn was specifically required for the anesthesia-sensitive, labile component, previously shown to require cAMP signaling via PKA in mushroom bodies. Together these data indicate that tomosyn has a conserved role in the regulation of synaptic transmission and provide behavioral evidence that tomosyn is involved in a specific component of late associative memory.


Kaiyun Chen, Antje Richlitzki, David E Featherstone, Martin Schwärzel, Janet E Richmond. Tomosyn-dependent regulation of synaptic transmission is required for a late phase of associative odor memory. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2011 Nov 8;108(45):18482-7

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PMID: 22042858

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