Extracellular-signal-regulated kinases (ERKs) are emerging as important regulators of neuronal function. Recent advances have increased our understanding of ERK signalling at the molecular level. In particular, it has become evident that multiple second messengers, such as cyclic adenosine monophosphate, protein kinase A, calcium, and diacylglycerol, can control ERK signalling via the small G proteins Ras and Rap1. These findings may explain the role of ERKs in the regulation of activity-dependent neuronal events, such as synaptic plasticity, long-term potentiation and cell survival. Moreover, they allow us to begin to develop a model to understand both the control of ERKs at the subcellular level and the generation of ERK signal specificity.
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