In response to the facilitating neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT), the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) acquires a special mnemonic characteristic in Aplysia sensory neurons. PKA becomes persistently activated at basal cAMP concentrations owing to a decreased regulatory (R) to catalytic (C) subunit ratio. We previously implicated ubiquitin- mediated proteolysis in this selective loss of R. Here we show that ubiquitin (Ub), Ub-conjugates and proteasomes are present in cell bodies, axon, neuropil and nerve terminals of Aplysia neurons. Because R subunits are not decreased in muscle exposed to 5-HT, comparison of the two tissues provides a tractable approach to determine how the Ub pathway is regulated. We compared the structure of M1, the muscle- specific R isoform, to that of N4, a major neuronal R isoform, to rule out the possibility that the differences in their stability result from differences in structure. We present evidence that N4 and M1 are encoded by identical transcripts; they also behave similarly as protein substrates for the Ub pathway in extracts of the two tissues. Nervous tissue contains 20-times more free Ub, but we present evidence that the susceptibility of R subunits to degradation in neurons relative to muscle results from the greater capacity of neurons to degrade ubiquitinated proteins through the proteasome. Thus, factors that regulate the activity of proteasomes could underlie the enhanced degradation of R subunits in long-term sensitization.