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Electron microscopy


Neuronal CaMKII holoenzymes (a and b isoforms) enable molecular signal computation underlying learning and memory but also mediate excitotoxic neuronal death. Here, we provide a comparative analysis of these signaling devices, using single-particle electron microscopy (EM) in combination with biochemical and live cell imaging studies. In the basal state, both isoforms assemble mainly as 12-mers (but also 14-mers and even 16-mers for the b isoform). CaMKIIa and b isoforms adopt an ensemble of extended activatable states (with average radius of 12.6 versus 16.8 nm, respectively), characterized by multiple transient intra- and interholoenzyme interactions associated with distinct functional properties. The extended state of CaMKIIb allows direct resolution of intra-holoenzyme kinase domain dimers. These dimers could enable cooperative activation by calmodulin, which is observed for both isoforms. High-order CaMKII clustering mediated by inter- holoenzyme kinase domain dimerization is reduced for the b isoform for both basal and excitotoxicity induced clusters, both in vitro and in neurons.


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