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Neurobiol Aging. 2008 Feb;29(2):231-40. Epub 2006 Dec 28.

Impairment of spatial learning and memory in ELKL Motif Kinase1 (EMK1/MARK2) knockout mice.

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Laboratoire de Neurosciences Cognitives, CNRS UMR 5106, Université de Bordeaux 1, Avenue des Facultés, 33405 Talence Cedex, France.


The hyperphosphorylation of tau protein is one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and of the associated cognitive decline. EMK1 (MARK2) is a serine/threonine kinase which phosphorylates tau and MAP2. An involvement of this kinase in memory functions is not established. We used a behavioral approach to study the phenotype of EMK1-null mice (EMK1-KO) as a possible model of MAP2/tau altered phophorylation. Compared to wild type mice, EMK1-KO mice did not differ in non-cognitive aspects of behavior, such as locomotion in activity cages, or anxiety in the elevated plus maze. However, they exhibited lower performance in the first stage of acquisition of a hippocampal-dependent spatial learning, as assessed in a radial water maze, although, they acquired the task with repeated training. They were again found to be impaired on re-learning a new platform position. In addition, they exhibited poor long-term retention performance. These data underline the importance on both early memory processes and long-term retrieval, of the dynamic instability of microtubules generated by the phosphorylation of MAPs.

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