Western blot analysis of neuronal tissues taken from fear-conditioned rats showed a selective activation of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI-3 kinase) in the amygdala. PI-3 kinase was also activated in response to long-term potentiation (LTP)-inducing tetanic stimulation. PI-3 kinase inhibitors blocked tetanus-induced LTP as well as PI-3 kinase activation. In parallel, these inhibitors interfered with long-term fear memory while leaving short-term memory intact. Tetanus and forskolin-induced activation of mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) was blocked by PI-3 kinase inhibitors, which also inhibited cAMP response element binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation. These results provide novel evidence of a requirement of PI-3 kinase activation in the amygdala for synaptic plasticity and memory consolidation, and this activation may occur at a point upstream of MAPK activation.
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