• Microtubule-associated protein 2;
  • Hippocampal granule cells;
  • N-Methyl-d-aspartate;
  • Nitric oxide

Abstract: Microtubule-associated protein 2 (MAP2), a component of the neuronal cytoskeleton, has attracted attention as a possible cellular substrate linking hippocampal N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor stimulation to alterations in cellular morphology. We show here that microinjection of NMDA, 8-bromo-cyclic GMP, or sin-1 molsidomine (which spontaneously releases nitric oxide), onto the molecular layer of the hippocampal dentate gyrus, increased the levels of MAP2 mRNA in the affected granule cells. No changes were observed in the levels of mRNAs encoding several other cytoskeletal components. This shows that hippocampal NMDA receptor stimulation can potentially initiate a long-term alteration in dendritic structure by affecting MAP2 gene expression and provides the first evidence that nitric oxide release in vivo, acting through cyclic GMP-dependent protein kinase, can cause long-term changes in neuronal function by modulating gene expression.