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J Neurosci. 2003 Jun 15;23(12):5354-60.

Activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase in hippocampal circuitry is required for consolidation and reconsolidation of recognition memory.

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  • 1Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience, Department of Physiology, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland.


Consolidation and reconsolidation of long-term memory have been shown to be dependent on the synthesis of new proteins, but the specific molecular mechanisms underlying these events remain to be elucidated. The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway can trigger genomic responses in neurons, leading to changes in protein synthesis, and several studies have identified its pivotal role in synaptic plasticity and long-term memory formation. In this study, we analyze the involvement of this pathway in the consolidation and reconsolidation of long-term recognition memory, using an object recognition task. We show that inhibition of the MAPK pathway by intracerebroventricular injection of the MEK [MAPK/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)] inhibitor UO126 blocks consolidation of object recognition memory but does not affect short-term memory. Brain regions of the entorhinal cortex-hippocampal circuitry were analyzed for ERK activation, and it was shown that consolidation of recognition memory was associated with increased phosphorylation of ERK in the dentate gyrus and entorhinal cortex, although total expression of ERK was unchanged. We also report that inhibition of the MAPK pathway blocks reconsolidation of recognition memory, and this was shown to be dependent on reactivation of the memory trace by brief reexposure to the objects. In addition, reconsolidation of memory was associated with an increase in the phosphorylation of ERK in entorhinal cortex and CA1. In summary, our data show that the MAPK kinase pathway is required for both consolidation and reconsolidation of long-term recognition memory, and that this is associated with hyperphosphorylation of ERK in different subregions of the entorhinal cortex-hippocampal circuitry.

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