Spaced stimuli stabilize MAPK pathway activation and its effects on dendritic morphology

Nat Neurosci. 2001 Feb;4(2):151-8. doi: 10.1038/83976.


Memory storage in mammalian neurons probably depends on both biochemical events and morphological alterations in dendrites. Here we report an activity-dependent stabilization of the MAP kinase (MAPK) pathway, prominent in hippocampal dendrites. The longevity of the signal in these dendrites was increased to hours when multiple spaced stimuli were used. Likewise, spaced stimuli and MAPK activation were critical for protrusion of new dendritic filopodia that also remained stable for hours. Our experiments define a new role for stimulus-specific responses of MAPK signaling in activity-dependent neuronal plasticity. The local biochemical signaling in dendrites complements MAPK signaling in gene expression. Together, these processes may support long-lasting behavioral changes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dendrites / physiology*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure*
  • Enzyme Activation / physiology
  • GTP-Binding Proteins / physiology
  • MAP Kinase Signaling System / physiology
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / physiology
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / metabolism*
  • Pseudopodia / physiology
  • Rats
  • Stimulation, Chemical
  • Time Factors


  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases
  • GTP-Binding Proteins