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J Biol Chem. 1999 May 7;274(19):13498-502.

Requirement for mitogen-activated protein kinase in cerebellar long term depression.

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  • 1Department of Biophysics, Graduate School of Science, Kyoto University, Sakyo-ku, Kyoto 606, Japan.


The mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade has been shown to play an essential role in regulation of cell proliferation and cell differentiation. Although mammalian MAPKs are most abundantly expressed in postmitotic and terminally differentiated neuronal cells, their function in the central nervous system is still largely undefined. We present evidence here for a role of the MAPK cascade in cerebellar long term depression (LTD), which is a widely studied form of synaptic plasticity in mammalian brain. In cultured Purkinje cells, LTD is known to be induced by iontophoretic application of glutamate and depolarization of Purkinje cells. We found that MAPK was activated in Purkinje cells by treatment of primary cultures of rat embryonic cerebella with glutamate and a depolarization-inducing agent, KCl. Application of PD98059, a specific inhibitor of MAPK kinase (MAPKK/MEK), inhibited both the activation of MAPK and the induction of LTD in Purkinje cells. Furthermore, the induction of LTD was completely blocked by introduction into Purkinje cells of anti-active MAPK antibody, which was found to specifically and potently inhibit the activity of MAPK. These results suggest that postsynaptic activation of the MAPK cascade is essential for the induction of cerebellar LTD.

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