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Keywords:

  • fear memory;
  • NR2B;
  • Src family kinase;
  • tyrosine phosphorylation

Abstract

Fyn-tyrosine-kinase-deficient mice exhibit defects in the Morris water maze test and long-term potentiation (LTP) induction in the hippocampus, and given that LTP has been postulated as the neural basis for memory formation, Fyn may be required for hippocampus-dependent memory formation. However, how Fyn is involved in the process of memory formation is unclear. To investigate the role of Fyn in hippocampal memory formation, we first tested the behavior of Fyn-deficient mice by contextual fear conditioning. A mouse was placed in a context and a foot shock was delivered, so that the mouse associated the context with the shock. We found that the freezing response of Fyn-deficient mice to the context was impaired at 24 h after conditioning. We then measured freezing at 1 h after conditioning, and found that their short-term contextual fear memory was also impaired. We used Western blotting to examine the mode of Fyn activation in dorsal hippocampal tissue following contextual fear conditioning. Fyn activation peaked as early as 5–10 min after contextual fear conditioning and persisted for at least 40 min. Concomitant increases in tyrosine phosphorylation of several proteins, including NR2B, were also observed, but no increases in tyrosine phosphorylation were observed in Fyn-deficient mice. Thus, both short-term and long-term (24-h) contextual fear memory were impaired in Fyn-deficient mice, and Fyn activation in the dorsal hippocampus transiently increased after contextual fear conditioning. These findings strongly suggest that activation of the Fyn signaling pathway is involved in hippocampus-dependent formation of contextual fear memory.