Inducible and targeted deletion of the ERK5 MAP kinase in adult neurogenic regions impairs adult neurogenesis in the olfactory bulb and several forms of olfactory behavior

PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e49622. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0049622. Epub 2012 Nov 21.


Although adult-born neurons in the subventricular zone (SVZ) and olfactory bulb (OB) have been extensively characterized at the cellular level, their functional impact on olfactory behavior is still highly controversial with many conflicting results reported in the literature. Furthermore, signaling mechanisms regulating adult SVZ/OB neurogenesis are not well defined. Here we report that inducible and targeted deletion of erk5, a MAP kinase selectively expressed in the adult neurogenic regions of the adult brain, impairs adult neurogenesis in the SVZ and OB of transgenic mice. Although erk5 deletion had no effect on olfactory discrimination among discrete odorants in the habituation/dishabituation assay, it reduced short-term olfactory memory as well as detection sensitivity to odorants and pheromones including those evoking aggression and fear. Furthermore, these mice show impaired acquisition of odor-cued associative olfactory learning, a novel phenotype that had not been previously linked to adult neurogenesis. These data suggest that ERK5 MAP kinase is a critical kinase signaling pathway regulating adult neurogenesis in the SVZ/OB, and provide strong evidence supporting a functional role for adult neurogenesis in several distinct forms of olfactory behavior.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / physiology
  • Bromodeoxyuridine / pharmacology
  • Gene Deletion
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 7 / genetics*
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 7 / metabolism*
  • Neurogenesis
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Odorants
  • Olfactory Bulb / metabolism*
  • Phenotype
  • Signal Transduction
  • Smell / genetics
  • Smell / physiology
  • Tamoxifen / pharmacology


  • Tamoxifen
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase 7
  • Bromodeoxyuridine