The mossy fibers of the hippocampus display NMDA-receptor independent long-term plasticity. A number of studies addressed the role of mossy fiber long-term plasticity in memory, but have provided contrasting results. Here, we have exploited a genetic model, the rab3A null-mutant, which is characterized by the absence of both mossy fiber long-term potentiation and long-term depression. This mutant was backcrossed to 129S3/SvImJ and C57Bl/6J to obtain standardized genetic backgrounds. Spatial working memory, assessed in the eight-arm radial maze, was unchanged in rab3A null-mutants. Moreover, one-trial cued and contextual fear conditioning was normal. Long-term spatial memory was tested in the Morris water maze. Two different versions of this task were used, an 'easy' version and a 'difficult' one. On both versions, no differences in search time and quadrant preferences were observed. Thus, despite the elimination of mossy fiber long-term plasticity, these tests revealed no impairments in mnemonic capabilities. We conclude that spatial, contextual and working memory do not depend on mossy fiber plasticity.

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Behavioural Brain Research
Department of Neuroscience