Molecular Neurobiology

, Volume 23, Issue 2–3, pp 83–99

Mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase induced gene regulation in brain

A molecular substrate for learning and memory?
  • Emmanuel Valjent
  • Jocelyne Caboche
  • Peter Vanhoutte


The mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) pathway is an evolutionarily conserved signaling cascade involved in a plethora of physiological responses, including cell proliferation, survival, differentiation, and, in neuronal cells, synaptic plasticity. Increasing evidence now implicates this pathway in cognitive functions, such as learning and memory formation, and also in behavioral responses to addictive drugs. Although multiple intracellular substrates can be activated by ERKs, nuclear targeting of transcription factors, and thereby control of gene expression, seems to be a major event in ERK-induced neuronal adaptation. By controlling a prime burst of gene expression, ERK signaling could be critically involved in molecular adaptations that are necessary for long-term behavioral changes. Reviewed here are data providing evidence for a role of ERKs in long-term behavioral alterations, and the authors discuss molecular mechanisms that could underlie this role.

Index Entries

MAPK/ERK long-term memory MEK inhibitors synaptic plasticity gene regulation 



after training


before training


calcium/calmodulin-dependent kinase


CREB-binding protein


cAMP and calcium-responsive element


cAMP and calcium-responsive element binding protein


extracellular signal-regulated kinase


guanine nucleotide exchange factor


G-protein-coupled receptor


immediate-early gene


c-Jun N-terminal kinase


long-term memory


long-term potentiation


mitogen-activated protein kinase


MAPK/ERK kinase


cAMP-dependant kinase


Ras guanine-nucleotide releasing factor


Ribosomal S6 kinase 2


serum response element


serum response factor


short-term memory


ternary complex factor


voltage-sensitive calcium channel


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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Emmanuel Valjent
    • 1
  • Jocelyne Caboche
    • 1
  • Peter Vanhoutte
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Signalisation Neuronale et Régulations GéniquesCNRS-Université Pierre et Marie CurieParisFrance

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