Changes in gene expression are required for long-lasting synaptic plasticity and long-term memory in both invertebrates and vertebrates. Regulation of local protein synthesis allows synapses to control synaptic strength independently of messenger RNA synthesis in the cell body. Recent reports indicate that several biochemical signalling cascades couple neurotransmitter and neurotrophin receptors to translational regulatory factors in protein synthesis-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity and memory. In this review, we highlight these translational regulatory mechanisms and the signalling pathways that govern the expression of synaptic plasticity in response to specific types of neuronal stimulation.
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