In Drosophila, dopamine signaling to the mushroom body intrinsic neurons, Kenyon cells (KCs), is critical to stabilize olfactory memory. Little is known about the downstream intracellular molecular signaling underlying memory stabilization. Here we address this question in the context of sugar-rewarded olfactory long-term memory (LTM). We show that associative training increases the phosphorylation of MAPK in KCs, via Dop1R2 signaling. Consistently, the attenuation of Dop1R2, Raf, or MAPK expression in KCs selectively impairs LTM, but not short-term memory. Moreover, we show that the LTM deficit caused by the knockdown of Dop1R2 can be rescued by expressing active Raf in KCs. Thus, the Dop1R2/Raf/MAPK pathway is a pivotal downstream effector of dopamine signaling for stabilizing appetitive olfactory memory.
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