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Learn Mem. 2008 Jan 28;15(2):55-62. doi: 10.1101/lm.746808. Print 2008 Feb.

Phosphorylation of ERK/MAP kinase is required for long-term potentiation in anatomically restricted regions of the lateral amygdala in vivo.

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Department of Psychology and Interdepartmental Neuroscience Program, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.


We have previously shown that the extracellular signal-regulated kinase/mitogen-activated protein kinase (ERK/ MAPK) is transiently activated in anatomically restricted regions of the lateral amygdala (LA) following Pavlovian fear conditioning and that blockade of ERK/MAPK activation in the LA impairs both fear memory consolidation and long-term potentiation (LTP) in the amygdala, in vitro. The present experiments evaluated the role of the ERK/MAPK signaling cascade in LTP at thalamo-LA input synapses, in vivo. We first show that ERK/MAPK is transiently activated/phosphorylated in the LA at 5 min, but not 15 or 60 min, after high-frequency, but not low-frequency, stimulation of the auditory thalamus. ERK activation induced by LTP-inducing stimulation was anatomically restricted to the same regions of the LA previously shown to exhibit ERK regulation following fear conditioning. We next show that intra-LA infusion of U0126, an inhibitor of ERK/MAPK activation, impairs LTP at thalamo-LA input synapses. Collectively, results demonstrate that ERK/MAPK activation is necessary for synaptic plasticity in anatomically defined regions of the LA, in vivo.

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