Role of activity-dependent BDNF expression in hippocampal-prefrontal cortical regulation of behavioral perseverance.
ABSTRACT: Activity-dependent gene transcription, including that of the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) gene, has been implicated in various cognitive functions. We previously demonstrated that mutant mice with selective disruption of activity-dependent BDNF expression (BDNF-KIV mice) exhibit deficits in GABA-mediated inhibition in the prefrontal cortex (PFC). Here, we show that disruption of activity-dependent BDNF expression impairs BDNF-dependent late-phase long-term potentiation (L-LTP) in CA1, a site of hippocampal output to the PFC. Interestingly, early-phase LTP and conventional L-LTP induced by strong tetanic stimulation were completely normal in BDNF-KIV mice. In parallel, attenuation of activity-dependent BDNF expression significantly impairs spatial memory reversal and contextual memory extinction, two executive functions that require intact hippocampal-PFC circuitry. In contrast, spatial and contextual memory per se were not affected. Thus, activity-dependent BDNF expression in the hippocampus and PFC may contribute to cognitive and behavioral flexibility. These results suggest distinct roles for different forms of L-LTP and provide a link between activity-dependent BDNF expression and behavioral perseverance, a hallmark of several psychiatric disorders.
Project description:Transcription of Bdnf is controlled by multiple promoters, which drive expression of multiple transcripts encoding for the same protein. Promoter IV contributes significantly to activity-dependent brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) transcription. We have generated promoter IV mutant mice (BDNF-KIV) by inserting a GFP-STOP cassette within the Bdnf exon IV locus. This genetic manipulation results in disruption of promoter IV-mediated Bdnf expression. BDNF-KIV animals exhibited significant deficits in GABAergic interneurons in the prefrontal cortex (PFC), particularly those expressing parvalbumin, a subtype implicated in executive function and schizophrenia. Moreover, disruption of promoter IV-driven Bdnf transcription impaired inhibitory but not excitatory synaptic transmission recorded from layer V pyramidal neurons in the PFC. The attenuation of GABAergic inputs resulted in an aberrant appearance of spike-timing-dependent synaptic potentiation (STDP) in PFC slices derived from BDNF-KIV, but not wild-type littermates. These results demonstrate the importance of promoter IV-dependent Bdnf transcription in GABAergic function and reveal an unexpected regulation of STDP in the PFC by BDNF.
Project description:Mechanisms underlying experience-dependent refinement of cortical connections, especially GABAergic inhibitory circuits, are unknown. By using a line of mutant mice that lack activity-dependent BDNF expression (bdnf-KIV), we show that experience regulation of cortical GABAergic network is mediated by activity-driven BDNF expression. Levels of endogenous BDNF protein in the barrel cortex are strongly regulated by sensory inputs from whiskers. There is a severe alteration of excitation and inhibition balance in the barrel cortex of bdnf-KIV mice as a result of reduced inhibitory but not excitatory conductance. Within the inhibitory circuits, the mutant barrel cortex exhibits significantly reduced levels of GABA release only from the parvalbumin-expressing fast-spiking (FS) interneurons, but not other interneuron subtypes. Postnatal deprivation of sensory inputs markedly decreased perisomatic inhibition selectively from FS cells in wild-type but not bdnf-KIV mice. These results suggest that postnatal experience, through activity-driven BDNF expression, controls cortical development by regulating FS cell-mediated perisomatic inhibition in vivo.
Project description:Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) promotes maturation of cholinergic neurons. However, how activity-dependent BDNF expression affects specific cholinergic gene expression remains unclear. This study addressed this question by determining mRNA levels of 22 acetylcholine receptor subunits, the choline transporter (CHT), and the choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) in mice deficient in activity-dependent BDNF via promoter IV (KIV) and control wild-type mice. Quantitative RT-PCR revealed significant reductions in nicotinic acetylcholine receptor alpha 5 (CHRNA5) in the frontal cortex and hippocampus and M5 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (CHRM5) in the hippocampus, but significant increases in M2 muscarinic acetylcholine receptor (CHRM2) in the frontal cortex of KIV mice compared to wild-type mice. Three-week treatments with fluoxetine, phenelzine, duloxetine, imipramine, or an enriched environment treatment (EET) did not affect the altered expression of these genes except that EET increased CHRNA5 levels only in KIV frontal cortex. EET also increased levels of CHRNA7, CHT, and ChAT, again only in the KIV frontal cortex. The imipramine treatment was most prominent among the four antidepressants; it up-regulated hippocampal CHRM2 and frontal cortex CHRM5 in both genotypes, and frontal cortex CHRNA7 only in KIV mice. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first evidence that BDNF deficiency disturbs expression of CHRNA5, CHRM2, and CHRM5. Our results suggest that promoter IV-BDNF deficiency - which occurs under chronic stress - causes cholinergic dysfunctions via these receptors. EET is effective on CHRNA5, while its compensatory induction of other cholinergic genes or drugs targeting CHRNA5, CHRM2, and CHRM5 may become an alternative strategy to reverse these BDNF-linked cholinergic dysfunctions.
Project description:Activity-dependent BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) expression is hypothesized to be a cue for the context-specificity of memory formation. So far, activity-dependent BDNF cannot be explicitly monitored independently of basal BDNF levels. We used the BLEV ( B DNF- live-exon- visualization) reporter mouse to specifically detect activity-dependent usage of Bdnf exon-IV and -VI promoters through bi-cistronic co-expression of CFP and YFP, respectively. Enriching acoustic stimuli led to improved peripheral and central auditory brainstem responses, increased Schaffer collateral LTP, and enhanced performance in the Morris water maze. Within the brainstem, neuronal activity was increased and accompanied by a trend for higher expression levels of Bdnf exon-IV-CFP and exon-VI-YFP transcripts. In the hippocampus BDNF transcripts were clearly increased parallel to changes in parvalbumin expression and were localized to specific neurons and capillaries. Severe acoustic trauma, in contrast, elevated neither Bdnf transcript levels, nor auditory responses, parvalbumin or LTP. Together, this suggests that critical sensory input is essential for recruitment of activity-dependent auditory-specific BDNF expression that may shape network adaptation.
Project description:VGF is a neurotrophin-inducible, activity-regulated gene product that is expressed in CNS and PNS neurons, in which it is processed into peptides and secreted. VGF synthesis is stimulated by BDNF, a critical regulator of hippocampal development and function, and two VGF C-terminal peptides increase synaptic activity in cultured hippocampal neurons. To assess VGF function in the hippocampus, we tested heterozygous and homozygous VGF knock-out mice in two different learning tasks, assessed long-term potentiation (LTP) and depression (LTD) in hippocampal slices from VGF mutant mice, and investigated how VGF C-terminal peptides modulate synaptic plasticity. Treatment of rat hippocampal slices with the VGF-derived peptide TLQP62 resulted in transient potentiation through a mechanism that was selectively blocked by the BDNF scavenger TrkB-Fc, the Trk tyrosine kinase inhibitor K252a (100 nm), and tPA STOP, an inhibitor of tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), an enzyme involved in pro-BDNF cleavage to BDNF, but was not blocked by the NMDA receptor antagonist APV, anti-p75(NTR) function-blocking antiserum, or previous tetanic stimulation. Although LTP was normal in slices from VGF knock-out mice, LTD could not be induced, and VGF mutant mice were impaired in hippocampal-dependent spatial learning and contextual fear conditioning tasks. Our studies indicate that the VGF C-terminal peptide TLQP62 modulates hippocampal synaptic transmission through a BDNF-dependent mechanism and that VGF deficiency in mice impacts synaptic plasticity and memory in addition to depressive behavior.
Project description:Animals can remember a situation associated with an aversive event. Contextual fear memory is initially encoded and consolidated in the hippocampus and gradually consolidated in multiple brain regions over time, including the medial prefrontal cortex (PFC). However, it is not fully understood how PFC neurons contribute to contextual fear memory formation during learning. In the present study, neuronal activity was increased in PFC neurons utilizing the pharmacogenetic hM3Dq-system in male mice. We show that fear expression and memory formation are enhanced by increasing neuronal activity in PFC during conditioning phase. Previous studies showed that the activation of hM3Dq receptor in a subset of amygdala neurons enhanced fear memory formation and biased which neurons are allocated to a memory trace, in which immediate early gene c-fos was preferentially expressed following memory retrieval in these pre-activated neurons. In this study, hM3Dq activation in PFC could not change the probability of c-fos expression in pre-activated neurons flowing memory retrieval. Instead, the number c-fos positive neurons following memory retrieval was significantly increased in the basolateral amygdala. Our results suggest that neuronal activity in PFC at the time of learning modulates fear memory formation and downstream cellular activity at an early phase.
Project description:Enriched environment treatment (EET) is a potential intervention for depression by inducing brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). However, its age dependency remains unclear. We recently found that EET during early-life development (ED) was effective in increasing exploratory activity and anti-despair behavior, particularly in promoter IV-driven BDNF deficient mice (KIV), with the largest BDNF protein induction in the hippocampus and frontal cortex. Here, we further determined age dependency of EET effects on anhedonia and promoter-specific BDNF transcription, by using the sucrose preference test and qRT-PCR. Wild-type (WT) and KIV mice received 2 months of EET during ED, young-adulthood and old-adulthood (0-2, 2-4 and 12-14?months, respectively). All KIV groups showed reduced sucrose preference, which EET equally reversed regardless of age. EET increased hippocampal BDNF mRNA levels for all ages and genotypes, but increased frontal cortex BDNF mRNA levels only in ED KIV and old WT mice. Transcription by promoters I and IV was age-dependent in the hippocampus of WT mice: more effective induction of exon IV or I during ED or old-adulthood, respectively. Transcription by almost all 9 promoters was age-specific in the frontal cortex, mostly observed in ED KIV mice. After discontinuance of EET, the EET effects on anti-anhedonia and BDNF transcription in both regions persisted only in ED KIV mice. These results suggested that EET was equally effective in reversing anhedonia and inducing hippocampal BDNF transcription, but was more effective during ED in inducing frontal cortex BDNF transcription and for lasting anti-anhedonic and BDNF effects particularly in promoter IV-BDNF deficiency.
Project description:The neurotrophin brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and its receptor TrkB participate in diverse neuronal functions, including activity-dependent synaptic plasticity that is crucial for learning and memory. On binding to BDNF, TrkB is not only autophosphorylated at tyrosine residues but also undergoes serine phosphorylation at S478 by the serine/threonine kinase cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5). However, the in vivo function of this serine phosphorylation remains unknown. We generated knock-in mice lacking this serine phosphorylation (Trkb(S478A/S478A) mice) and found that the TrkB phosphorylation-deficient mice displayed impaired spatial memory and compromised hippocampal long-term potentiation (LTP). S478 phosphorylation of TrkB regulates its interaction with the Rac1-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor TIAM1, leading to activation of Rac1 and phosphorylation of S6 ribosomal protein during activity-dependent dendritic spine remodeling. These findings reveal the importance of Cdk5-mediated S478 phosphorylation of TrkB in activity-dependent structural plasticity, which is crucial for LTP and spatial memory formation.
Project description:Promoter IV-driven expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a major neuronal growth factor, is implicated in the pathophysiology of major depression. We previously reported that mice lacking expression of BDNF through promoter IV (BDNF-KIV mice) exhibit a depression-like phenotype. Here, we examined whether the depression-like phenotype and decreased levels of BDNF because of promoter IV deficit could be rescued by enriched environment (EE) treatment, a potential antidepressant intervention. Three weeks of EE treatment rescued depression-like behavior of BDNF-KIV mice as assessed by the tail suspension test, open-field test and sucrose preference test. EE treatment also increased BDNF transcripts driven by multiple endogenous promoters and restored BDNF protein levels in the hippocampus (HIP) of BDNF-KIV mice. Further, we investigated adult hippocampal neurogenesis as a possible cellular mechanism underlying the depression-like behavior and its recovery in BDNF-KIV mice. We found that the number of surviving progenitors and their dendritic length in the dentate gyrus of the HIP were reduced in BDNF-KIV mice compared with the control wild-type mice. EE treatment restored the reduction in cell survival and dendritic length and increased cell proliferation in BDNF-KIV mice. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that EE rescued depression-like behavior, decreased BDNF levels and defective neurogenesis in the HIP caused by lack of promoter IV-driven BDNF expression. These results suggest that decreased BDNF levels because of one impaired promoter can be compensated by other BDNF promoters and that BDNF levels may be one of the key factors regulating depression and antidepressant effects through hippocampal neurogenesis.
Project description:Schizophrenia (SZ) is a neurodevelopmental disorder in which the emergence of cognitive symptoms occurs during early adolescence. Glycogen synthase kinase-3? (GSK3?) plays a critical role in synaptic plasticity during development and is highly implicated in the etiology of SZ. However, how GSK3? activity affects synaptic plasticity and working memory function in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) during development remains unknown. Here we show a GSK3? hyperactivity during the early postnatal period in a neurodevelopmental rat SZ model that receives gestational exposure (E17) to the neurotoxin methylazoxymethanol (MAM). Accompanied with this change, adult MAM rats exhibited a significant decrease in spine density as well as impaired working memory, which was rescued by treatment with a GSK3? inhibitor during the juvenile period. Furthermore, the age-dependent hyperactive GSK3? caused a significant deficit in long-term potentiation (LTP) and facilitated long-term depression (LTD) in PFC pyramidal neurons. Notably, these changes in synaptic plasticity occurred only during the late juvenile period and were efficiently reversed by application of GSK3? inhibitors. Because the balance of LTP and LTD plays a critical role in activity-dependent synaptic stabilization and elimination during cortical development, the transient hyperactive GSK3? likely accounts for the cortical spine loss and PFC-dependent cognitive deficits in adulthood. These results highlight the importance of the postnatal trajectory of GSK3? for spine development and PFC function, and may shed light on the prophylactic treatment of cognitive symptoms in the SZ.