Mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) cascade is essential for synaptic plasticity and learning. In the hippocampus, three different MAPK subfamilies, extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2 (ERK1/2), p38 MAPK and c-Jun NH 2-terminal protein kinase (JNK), selectively regulate activity-dependent glutamate receptor trafficking during long-term potentiation (LTP), long-term depression (LTD), and depotentiation after LTP, respectively. Although LTP and LTD at cerebellar parallel fibre (PF)-Purkinje cell synapses are thought to be controlled by glutamate receptor trafficking, the involvement of MAPK subfamilies has not been systemically studied in cerebellar slice preparations. To clarify the role of the MAPK cascade in cerebellar LTD, we performed biochemical and electrophysiological analyses using ICR mouse cerebellar slices. Immunoblot analyses using phosphorylation-specific antibodies for MAPKs revealed that among the three MAPKs, ERK1/2 was specifically activated by phorbol ester, which could induce LTD in cerebellar slices. In addition, U0126, a specific inhibitor of the MAPK kinase-ERK1/2 pathway, abrogated the induction of LTD in cerebellar slices, whereas SB203580 and SP600125, specific inhibitors of p38 MAPK and JNK, respectively, had no effect. Although metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (mGluR1) has been suggested as a possible downstream target of ERK1/2 in cell-culture preparations, mGluR1-activated slow excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) were not affected by U0126 treatment in slices. These findings indicate that unlike hippocampal LTD mediated by p38 MAPK, glutamate receptor trafficking during cerebellar LTD was regulated by a distinct mechanism involving ERK1/2 in slice preparations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas