Genetic removal of eIF2α kinase PERK in mice enables hippocampal L-LTP independent of mTORC1 activity

Helena R. Zimmermann, Wenzhong Yang, Brenna C. Beckelman, Nicole P. Kasica, Xueyan Zhou, Lucas Dufresne Galli, Alexey G. Ryazanov, Tao Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Characterization of the molecular signaling pathways underlying protein synthesis-dependent forms of synaptic plasticity, such as late long-term potentiation (L-LTP), can provide insights not only into memory expression/maintenance under physiological conditions but also potential mechanisms associated with the pathogenesis of memory disorders. Here, we report in mice that L-LTP failure induced by the mammalian (mechanistic) target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) inhibitor rapamycin is reversed by brain-specific genetic deletion of PKR-like ER kinase, PERK (PERK KO), a kinase for eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF2α). In contrast, genetic removal of general control non-derepressible-2, GCN2 (GCN2 KO), another eIF2α kinase, or treatment of hippocampal slices with the PERK inhibitor GSK2606414, does not rescue rapamycin-induced L-LTP failure, suggesting mechanisms independent of eIF2α phosphorylation. Moreover, we demonstrate that phosphorylation of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 (eEF2) is significantly decreased in PERK KO mice but unaltered in GCN2 KO mice or slices treated with the PERK inhibitor. Reduction in eEF2 phosphorylation results in increased general protein synthesis, and thus could contribute to the mTORC1-independent L-LTP in PERK KO mice. We further performed experiments on mutant mice with genetic removal of eEF2K (eEF2K KO), the only known kinase for eEF2, and found that L-LTP in eEF2K KO mice is insensitive to rapamycin. These data, for the first time, connect reduction in PERK activity with the regulation of translation elongation in enabling L-LTP independent of mTORC1. Thus, our findings indicate previously unrecognized levels of complexity in the regulation of protein synthesis-dependent synaptic plasticity. (Figure presented.). Read the Editorial Highlight for this article on page 119. Cover Image for this issue: doi: 10.1111/jnc.14185.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)133-144
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neurochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


  • LTP
  • PERK
  • Rapamycin
  • eEF2
  • eIF2α
  • mTORC1

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