Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) is abundantly expressed in postmitotic neurons of the developed nervous system. MAPK is activated and required for induction of long-term potentiation (LTP) in the CA1 area of the hippocampus, which is blocked by the specific inhibitor of the MAPK kinase, PD 098059. Recently it was demonstrated that MAPK is activated in the hippocampus after training and is necessary for contextual fear conditioning learning. The present work tests the role of the MAPK cascade in step-down inhibitory avoidance (IA) retention. PD 098059 (50 microM) was bilaterally injected (0.5 microl/side) into the CA1 region of the dorsal hippocampus or entorhinal cortex at 0, 90, 180, or 360 min, or into the amygdala or parietal cortex at 0, 180, or 360 min after IA training in rats using a 0.4-mA foot shock. Retention testing was carried out 24 h after training. PD 098059 impaired retention when injected into the dorsal hippocampus at 180 min, but not 0, 90, and 360 min after training. When infused into the entorhinal cortex, PD 098059 was amnestic at 0 and 180 min, but not at 90 and 360 min after training. The MAPKK inhibitor also impairs IA retention when infused into the parietal cortex immediately after training, but not at 180 or 360 min. Infusions performed into amygdala were amnestic at 180 min, but not at 0 and 360 min after training. Our results suggest a time-dependent involvement of the MAPK cascade in the posttraining memory processing of IA; the time dependency is different in the hippocampus, amygdala, entorhinal cortex, or parietal cortex of rats.
Copyright 2000 Academic Press.