PKMzeta inhibition reverses learning-induced increases in hippocampal synaptic strength and memory during trace eyeblink conditioning

PLoS One. 2010 Apr 29;5(4):e10400. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010400.


A leading candidate in the process of memory formation is hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP), a persistent enhancement in synaptic strength evoked by the repetitive activation of excitatory synapses, either by experimental high-frequency stimulation (HFS) or, as recently shown, during actual learning. But are the molecular mechanisms for maintaining synaptic potentiation induced by HFS and by experience the same? Protein kinase Mzeta (PKMzeta), an autonomously active atypical protein kinase C isoform, plays a key role in the maintenance of LTP induced by tetanic stimulation and the storage of long-term memory. To test whether the persistent action of PKMzeta is necessary for the maintenance of synaptic potentiation induced after learning, the effects of ZIP (zeta inhibitory peptide), a PKMzeta inhibitor, on eyeblink-conditioned mice were studied. PKMzeta inhibition in the hippocampus disrupted both the correct retrieval of conditioned responses (CRs) and the experience-dependent persistent increase in synaptic strength observed at CA3-CA1 synapses. In addition, the effects of ZIP on the same associative test were examined when tetanic LTP was induced at the hippocampal CA3-CA1 synapse before conditioning. In this case, PKMzeta inhibition both reversed tetanic LTP and prevented the expected LTP-mediated deleterious effects on eyeblink conditioning. Thus, PKMzeta inhibition in the CA1 area is able to reverse both the expression of trace eyeblink conditioned memories and the underlying changes in CA3-CA1 synaptic strength, as well as the anterograde effects of LTP on associative learning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Association Learning
  • CA1 Region, Hippocampal
  • CA3 Region, Hippocampal
  • Conditioning, Eyelid*
  • Excitatory Postsynaptic Potentials*
  • Hippocampus / physiology*
  • Long-Term Potentiation
  • Memory*
  • Mice
  • Protein Kinase C / antagonists & inhibitors*


  • protein kinase C zeta
  • Protein Kinase C