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J Neurosci. 2003 May 1;23(9):3679-88.

Phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase regulates the induction of long-term potentiation through extracellular signal-related kinase-independent mechanisms.

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  • 1Department of Physiology, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California at Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California 90095, USA.


Inhibitors of both phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase (PI3-kinase) and MAPK/ERK (mitogen-activate protein kinase/extracellular signal-related kinase) activation inhibit NMDA receptor-dependent long-term potentiation (LTP). PI3-kinase inhibitors also block activation of ERK by NMDA receptor stimulation, suggesting that PI3-kinase inhibitors block LTP because PI3-kinase is an essential upstream regulator of ERK activation. To examine this hypothesis, we investigated the effects of PI3-kinase inhibitors on ERK activation and LTP induction in the CA1 region of mouse hippocampal slices. Consistent with the notion that ERK activation by NMDA receptor stimulation is PI3-kinase dependent, the PI3-kinase inhibitor wortmannin partially inhibited ERK2 activation induced by bath application of NMDA and strongly suppressed ERK2 activation by high-frequency synaptic stimulation. PI3-kinase and MEK (MAP kinase kinase) inhibitors had very different effects on LTP, however. Both types of inhibitors suppressed LTP induced by theta-frequency trains of synaptic stimulation, but only PI3-kinase inhibitors suppressed the induction of LTP by high-frequency stimulation or low-frequency stimulation paired with postsynaptic depolarization. Concentrations of PI3-kinase inhibitors that inhibited LTP when present during high-frequency stimulation had no effect on potentiated synapses when applied after high-frequency stimulation, suggesting that PI3-kinase is specifically involved in the induction of LTP. Finally, we found that LTP induced by theta-frequency stimulation was MEK inhibitor insensitive but still PI3-kinase dependent in hippocampal slices from PSD-95 (postsynaptic density-95) mutant mice. Together, our results indicate that the role of PI3-kinase in LTP is not limited to its role as an upstream regulator of MAPK signaling but also includes signaling through ERK-independent pathways that regulate LTP induction.

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