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Keywords:

  • cellular prion;
  • hippocampus;
  • laminin;
  • learning;
  • memory;
  • rat

Abstract

Cellular prion protein (PrPc) has a pivotal role in prion diseases. PrPc is a specific receptor for laminin (LN) γ1 peptide and several lines of evidence indicate that it is also involved in neural plasticity. Here we investigated whether the interaction between PrPc and LN plays a role in rat memory formation. We found that post-training intrahippocampal infusion of PrPc-derived peptides that contain the LN binding site (inline image and inline image) or of anti-PrPc or anti-LN antibodies that inhibit PrPc–LN interaction impaired inhibitory avoidance memory retention. The amnesic effect of anti-PrPc antibodies and inline image peptide was reversed by co-infusion of a LN γ1 chain-derived peptide containing the PrPc-binding site, suggesting that PrPc–LN interaction is indeed crucial for memory consolidation. In addition, inline image peptide and anti-PrPc or anti-LN antibodies also inhibited the activation of hippocampal cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) and extracellular regulated kinase (ERK1/2), two kinases that mediate the up-regulation of signaling pathways needed for consolidation of inhibitory avoidance memory. Our findings show that, through its interaction with LN, hippocampal PrPc plays a critical role in memory processing and suggest that this role is mediated by activation of both PKA and ERK1/2 signaling pathways.