Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Biol Psychiatry. 2007 May 1;61(9):1049-61. Epub 2006 Nov 1.

The striatal-enriched protein tyrosine phosphatase gates long-term potentiation and fear memory in the lateral amygdala.

Author information

Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06520, USA.



Formation of long-term memories is critically dependent on extracellular-regulated kinase (ERK) signaling. Activation of the ERK pathway by the sequential recruitment of mitogen-activated protein kinases is well understood. In contrast, the proteins that inactivate this pathway are not as well characterized.


Here we tested the hypothesis that the brain-specific striatal-enriched protein tyrosine phosphatase (STEP) plays a key role in neuroplasticity and fear memory formation by its ability to regulate ERK1/2 activation.


STEP co-localizes with the ERKs within neurons of the lateral amygdala. A substrate-trapping STEP protein binds to the ERKs and prevents their nuclear translocation after glutamate stimulation in primary cell cultures. Administration of TAT-STEP into the lateral amygdala (LA) disrupts long-term potentiation (LTP) and selectively disrupts fear memory consolidation. Fear conditioning induces a biphasic activation of ERK1/2 in the LA with an initial activation within 5 minutes of training, a return to baseline levels by 15 minutes, and an increase again at 1 hour. In addition, fear conditioning results in the de novo translation of STEP. Inhibitors of ERK1/2 activation or of protein translation block the synthesis of STEP within the LA after fear conditioning.


Together, these data imply a role for STEP in experience-dependent plasticity and suggest that STEP modulates the activation of ERK1/2 during amygdala-dependent memory formation. The regulation of emotional memory by modulating STEP activity may represent a target for the treatment of psychiatric disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), panic, and anxiety disorders.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Publication types, MeSH terms, Substances, Grant support

Publication types

MeSH terms


Grant support

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center