PKMζ maintains spatial, instrumental, and classically conditioned long-term memories

Peter Serrano, Eugenia L. Friedman, Jana Kenney, Stephen M. Taubenfeld, Joshua M. Zimmerman, John Hanna, Cristina Alberini, Ann E. Kelley, Stephen Maren, Jerry W. Rudy, Jerry C.P. Yin, Todd C. Sacktor, André A. Fenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How long-term memories are stored is a fundamental question in neuroscience. The first molecular mechanism for long-term memory storage in the brain was recently identified as the persistent action of protein kinase Mzeta (PKMζ), an autonomously active atypical protein kinase C (PKC) isoform critical for the maintenance of long-term potentiation (LTP). PKMζ maintains aversively conditioned associations, but what general form of information the kinase encodes in the brain is unknown. We first confirmed the specificity of the action of zeta inhibitory peptide (ZIP) by disrupting long-term memory for active place avoidance with chelerythrine, a second inhibitor of PKMζ activity. We then examined, using ZIP, the effect of PKMζ inhibition in dorsal hippocampus (DH) and basolateral amygdala (BLA) on retention of 1-d-old information acquired in the radial arm maze, water maze, inhibitory avoidance, and contextual and cued fear conditioning paradigms. In the DH, PKMζ inhibition selectively disrupted retention of information for spatial reference, but not spatial working memory in the radial arm maze, and precise, but not coarse spatial information in the water maze. Thus retention of accurate spatial, but not procedural and contextual information required PKMζ activity. Similarly, PKMζ inhibition in the hippocampus did not affect contextual information after fear conditioning. In contrast, PKMζ inhibition in the BLA impaired retention of classical conditioned stimulus-unconditioned stimulus (CS-US) associations for both contextual and auditory fear, as well as instrumentally conditioned inhibitory avoidance. PKMζ inhibition had no effect on postshock freezing, indicating fear expression mediated by the BLA remained intact. Thus, persistent PKMζ activity is a general mechanism for both appetitively and aversively motivated retention of specific, accurate learned information, but is not required for processing contextual, imprecise, or procedural information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere318
Pages (from-to)2698-2706
Number of pages9
JournalPLoS biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2008

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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