Hitting Ras where it counts: Ras antagonism in the basolateral amygdala inhibits long-term fear memory.
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Several studies have implicated the Ras/mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway in Pavlovian fear conditioning. RasGRF1 knockout mice show significant deficits in acquisition of long-term fear memories and long-term potentaition (LTP) in the basolateral amygdala (BLA). MAPK kinase inhibition also impairs fear conditioning and amygdaloid LTP. However, there is no direct evidence to date for the involvement of Ras itself in fear conditioning. To address this issue, we examined the effects of intra-amygdala infusions of the selective Ras antagonist farnesylthiosalicylic acid (FTS) on the acquisition and expression of conditional freezing in rats. Micro-infusions of FTS into the BLA prior to contextual fear conditioning significantly impaired acquisition of long-term contextual fear memory in a dose-dependent manner. Post-training FTS infusions had no effect on acquisition of long-term fear memory. The effects of FTS on fear conditioning were specific for the BLA. Finally, intra-amygdala infusions of FTS inhibited MAPK activation in BLA. Collectively, these results provide further evidence for the involvement of amygdaloid Ras in the acquisition of long-term conditional fear memory.