Calcineurin is a calcium-dependent protein phosphatase that has been implicated in various aspects of synaptic plasticity. By using conditional gene-targeting techniques, we created mice in which calcineurin activity is disrupted specifically in the adult forebrain. At hippocampal Schaffer collateral-CA1 synapses, LTD was significantly diminished, and there was a significant shift in the LTD/LTP modification threshold in mutant mice. Strikingly, although performance was normal in hippocampus-dependent reference memory tasks, including contextual fear conditioning and the Morris water maze, the mutant mice were impaired in hippocampus-dependent working and episodic-like memory tasks, including the delayed matching-to-place task and the radial maze task. Our results define a critical role for calcineurin in bidirectional synaptic plasticity and suggest a novel mechanistic distinction between working/episodic-like memory and reference memory.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes