Biphasic Regulation of p38 MAPK by Serotonin Contributes to the Efficacy of Stimulus Protocols That Induce Long-Term Synaptic Facilitation. Academic Article uri icon


  • The MAPK isoforms ERK and p38 MAPK are believed to play opposing roles in long-term synaptic facilitation (LTF) induced by serotonin (5-HT) in Aplysia. To fully understand their roles, however, it is necessary to consider the dynamics of ERK and p38 MAPK activation. Previous studies determined that activation of ERK occurred 45 min after a 5-min pulse of 5-HT treatment. The dynamics of p38 MAPK activation following 5-HT are yet to be elucidated. Here, the activity of p38 MAPK was examined at different times after 5-HT, and the interaction between the ERK and p38 MAPK pathways was investigated. A 5-min pulse of 5-HT induced a transient inhibition of p38 MAPK, followed by a delayed activation between 25 and 45 min. This activation was blocked by a MAPK kinase inhibitor, suggesting that similar pathways are involved in activation of ERK and p38 MAPK. ERK activity decreased shortly after the activation of p38 MAPK. A p38 MAPK inhibitor blocked this decrease in ERK activity, suggesting a causal relationship. The p38 MAPK activity 45 min after different stimulus protocols was also characterized. These data were incorporated into a computational model for the induction of LTF. Simulations and empirical data suggest that p38 MAPK, together with ERK, contributes to the efficacy of spaced stimulus protocols to induce LTF, a correlate of long-term memory (LTM). For example, decreased p38 MAPK activity 45 min after the first of two sensitizing stimuli might be an important determinant of an optimal interstimulus interval (ISI) for LTF induction.

published proceedings

  • eNeuro

altmetric score

  • 0.75

author list (cited authors)

  • Zhang, Y., Smolen, P., Baxter, D. A., & Byrne, J. H.

citation count

  • 10

complete list of authors

  • Zhang, Yili||Smolen, Paul||Baxter, Douglas A||Byrne, John H

publication date

  • January 2017

published in