Synaptically activated, rapid and dendritic synthesis of new proteins has long been proposed to mediate long-lasting changes at the synapse [Steward O, Schuman EM: Protein synthesis at synaptic sites on dendrites. Annu Rev Neurosci 2001, 24:299-325]. Studies of group 1 metabotropic glutamate receptor-dependent long-term depression (mGluR-LTD) have provided new insight into dendritic or local translation and plasticity. Here we highlight these exciting results and discuss how synaptic activity controls local translation, the proteins that are synthesized in dendrites, how they affect synaptic function and how altered local translational control contributes to a form of human mental retardation, Fragile X Syndrome.
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