Focal adhesion kinase is required, but not sufficient, for the induction of long-term potentiation in dentate gyrus neurons in vivo

Ying C. Yang, Yun L. Ma, Shau K. Chen, Cheng W. Wang, Eminy H.Y. Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


Tyrosine kinase phosphorylation plays an important role in the induction of long-term potentiation (LTP). Focal adhesion kinase (FAK) is a 125 kDa nonreceptor tyrosine kinase that shows decreased phosphorylation in fyn mutant mice, and Fyn plays a critical role in LTP induction. By examining the role of FAK involved in LTP induction in dentate gyrus in vivo with medial perforant path stimulation, we found that both FAK and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK) phosphorylation were increased significantly 5 and 10 min after LTP induction, whereas cAMP-responsive element binding protein (CREB) phosphorylation was increased 40 min later. Transfection of the dominant-negative FAK mutant construct HA-FAK(Y397F) impaired LTP, whereas transfection of the constitutively activated form HA-FAK(Δ1-100) reduced the threshold for LTP induction. Transfection of HA-FAK(Δ1-100) by itself did not induce long-lasting potentiation. Further, transfection of the HA-FAK(Y397F) construct decreased FAK, MAPK/ERK, and CREB phosphorylation, and the inhibition of MAPK/ERK decreased CREB phosphorylation. Moreover, blockade of NMDA receptor (NMDAR) did not decrease FAK, MAPK/ERK, and CREB phosphorylation although LTP induction was blunted by NMDAR antagonist. These biochemical changes were not associated with low-frequency stimulation either. Immunoprecipitation results revealed that tyrosine phosphorylation of NR2A and NR2B as well as the association of phosphorylated FAK with NR2A and NR2B was increased with LTP induction. These results together suggest that FAK is required, but not sufficient, for the induction of LTP in a NMDAR-independent manner and that MAPK/ERK and CREB are the downstream events of FAK activation. Further, FAK may interact with NR2A and NR2B to modulate LTP induction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4072-4080
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - May 15 2003
Externally publishedYes


  • CAMP-responsive element binding protein
  • Field EPSP
  • Focal adhesion kinase
  • Long-term potentiation
  • Metabotropic glutamate receptor
  • Mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated kinase
  • NMDA receptor
  • Phosphorylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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