The persistence of synaptic potentiation in the hippocampus is known to depend on transcription and protein synthesis. We report here that, under regimes of reduced protein synthesis, competition between synapses for the relevant intracellular proteins can be demonstrated. Under such circumstances, the induction of additional protein synthesis-dependent long-term potentiation for a given set of postsynaptic neurons occurs at the expense of the maintenance of prior potentiation on an independent pathway. This new phenomenon, which we call "competitive maintenance," has important functional consequences, and it may be explained in terms of dynamic interactions between synapses and "plasticity factors" over extended periods of time.
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