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Cell. 2004 Feb 6;116(3):467-79.

Translational control by MAPK signaling in long-term synaptic plasticity and memory.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, The Picower Center for Learning and Memory, RIKEN-MIT Neuroscience Research Center, Center for Cancer Research, Departments of Biology and Brain and Cognitive Sciences, MIT, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.


Enduring forms of synaptic plasticity and memory require new protein synthesis, but little is known about the underlying regulatory mechanisms. Here, we investigate the role of MAPK signaling in these processes. Conditional expression of a dominant-negative form of MEK1 in the postnatal murine forebrain inhibited ERK activation and caused selective deficits in hippocampal memory retention and the translation-dependent, transcription-independent phase of hippocampal L-LTP. In hippocampal neurons, ERK inhibition blocked neuronal activity-induced translation as well as phosphorylation of the translation factors eIF4E, 4EBP1, and ribosomal protein S6. Correspondingly, protein synthesis and translation factor phosphorylation induced in control hippocampal slices by L-LTP-generating tetanization were significantly reduced in mutant slices. Translation factor phosphorylation induced in the control hippocampus by memory formation was similarly diminished in the mutant hippocampus. These results suggest a crucial role for translational control by MAPK signaling in long-lasting forms of synaptic plasticity and memory.

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