Consolidation of new fear memories has been shown to require de novo RNA and protein synthesis in the lateral nucleus of amygdala (LA). Recently we have demonstrated that consolidated fear memories, when reactivated, return to a labile state which is sensitive to disruption by the protein synthesis inhibitor anisomycin. The specific molecular mechanisms that underlie this reconsolidation of fear memories are still largely unknown. The activation of extracellular signal-regulated kinase-mitogen-activated protein kinase (ERK-MAPK) pathway in the LA is required for the consolidation of auditory fear memories. In the present study, we examined the role of ERK-MAPK cascade in the LA during reconsolidation of auditory fear conditioning. We show that intra-LA infusions of the MAPK kinase (MEK) inhibitor U0126, a manipulation which inhibits activation of ERK-MAPK, impairs postreactivation long-term memory (PR-LTM) but leaves the postreactivation short-term memory (PR-STM) intact. The same treatment with U0126, in the absence of memory reactivation, has no effect. Furthermore, we verified that reconsolidation requires translation using a second protein synthesis inhibitor, cycloheximide. Post-reactivation infusions of cycloheximide blocked PR-LTM but not PR-STM and, in the absence of reactivation, had no effect. Our data show that activation of ERK-MAPK signalling pathway and protein synthesis in the LA are required for reconsolidation of auditory fear memories.
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