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Versatile Molecular Hauler in Long-Term Memory and Synaptic Plasticity Identified

A new study identifies a molecular motor (KIF5C) that carries over 600 transcripts over long distances from the cell body of neurons to synapses for localized protein synthesis, thereby playing a critical role in excitatory synaptic transmission and structural synaptic plasticity, the key to long term memory storage. The study shows deficiency of KIF5C in the hippocampus, a region of the brain important in long-term memory formation, impairs both contextual and spatial memory while its abundance in the hippocampus enhances spatial memory and the attenuation of fear responses upon repeated exposure to the context without the aversive stimuli.