Experience-Dependent Accumulation of N6-Methyladenosine in the Prefrontal Cortex Is Associated with Memory Processes in Mice.
ABSTRACT: UNLABELLED:The RNA modification N(6)-methyladenosine (m(6)A) influences mRNA stability and cell-type-specific developmental programming, and is highly abundant in the adult brain. However, it has not been determined whether m(6)A is dynamically regulated by experience. Based on transcriptome-wide profiling of m(6)A, we report that the level of m(6)A increases in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of mice in response to behavioral experience. The modulation was enriched near the stop codon of mRNAs, including genes related to neuronal plasticity. In primary cortical neurons, in vitro, modulation of m(6)A by the RNA demethylase FTO influenced the degradation profiles of a subset of transcripts with modulated sites. In vivo, the expression of Fto and the m(6)A methyltransferase, Mettl3 correlated with the observed increase in m(6)A levels post-training. Furthermore, targeted knockdown of FTO in the mPFC led to enhanced consolidation of cued fear memory. Thus, together with its role in early development, the dynamic regulation of m(6)A in the adult brain serves as an important epitranscriptomic mechanism associated with behavioral adaptation. SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT:N(6)-methyladenosine (m(6)A) is the most prevalent internal modification on RNA, however, its cellular dynamics in vivo remains elusive. Here we provide the first demonstration of m(6)A upregulation in the mouse medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) following behavioral training. Knocking down the m(6)A demethylase FTO in the mPFC, which increases total m(6)A level, results in enhanced consolidation of fear memory. Our findings suggest that m(6)A is regulated in an activity-dependent manner in the adult brain, and may function to fine-tune mRNA turnover during memory-related processes.
Project description:Following learning, increased coupling between spindle oscillations in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and ripple oscillations in the hippocampus is thought to underlie memory consolidation. However, whether learning-induced increases in ripple-spindle coupling are necessary for successful memory consolidation has not been tested directly. In order to decouple ripple-spindle oscillations, here we chemogenetically inhibited parvalbumin-positive (PV+) interneurons, since their activity is important for regulating the timing of spiking activity during oscillations. We found that contextual fear conditioning increased ripple-spindle coupling in mice. However, inhibition of PV+ cells in either CA1 or mPFC eliminated this learning-induced increase in ripple-spindle coupling without affecting ripple or spindle incidence. Consistent with the hypothesized importance of ripple-spindle coupling in memory consolidation, post-training inhibition of PV+ cells disrupted contextual fear memory consolidation. These results indicate that successful memory consolidation requires coherent hippocampal-neocortical communication mediated by PV+ cells.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Memory consolidation is a process to stabilize short-term memory, generating long-term memory. A critical biochemical feature of memory consolidation is a requirement for gene expression. Previous studies have shown that fear memories are consolidated through the activation of gene expression in the amygdala and hippocampus, indicating essential roles of these brain regions in memory formation. However, it is still poorly understood whether gene expression in brain regions other than the amygdala/hippocampus is required for the consolidation of fear memory; however, several brain regions are known to play modulatory roles in fear memory formation.<h4>Results</h4>To further understand the mechanisms underlying the formation of fear memory, we first identified brain regions where gene expression is activated after learning inhibitory avoidance (IA) by analyzing the expression of the immediately early genes c-fos and Arc as markers. Similarly with previous findings, the induction of c-fos and Arc expression was observed in the amygdala and hippocampus. Interestingly, we also observed the induction of c-fos and Arc expression in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC: prelimbic (PL) and infralimbic (IL) regions) and Arc expression in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC). We next examined the roles of these brain regions in the consolidation of IA memory. Consistent with previous findings, inhibiting protein synthesis in the hippocampus blocked the consolidation of IA memory. More importantly, inhibition in the mPFC or ACC also blocked the formation of IA memory.<h4>Conclusion</h4>Our observations indicated that the formation of IA memory requires gene expression in the ACC and mPFC as well as in the amygdala and hippocampus, suggesting essential roles of the ACC and mPFC in IA memory formation.
Project description:Encoding and retrieval of contextual memories is initially mediated by sparsely activated neurons, so-called engram cells, in the hippocampus. Subsequent memory persistence is thought to depend on network-wide changes involving progressive contribution of cortical regions, a process referred to as systems consolidation. Using a viral-based TRAP (targeted recombination in activated populations) approach, we studied whether consolidation of contextual fear memory by neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) is modulated by memory strength and CREB function. We demonstrate that activity of a small subset of mPFC neurons is sufficient and necessary for remote memory expression, but their involvement depends on the strength of conditioning. Furthermore, selective disruption of CREB function in mPFC engram cells after mild conditioning impairs remote memory expression. Together, our data demonstrate that memory consolidation by mPFC engram cells requires CREB-mediated transcription, with the functionality of this network hub being gated by memory strength.
Project description:N6-methyladenosine (m6A) and N6,2'-O-dimethyladenosine (m6Am) are abundant mRNA modifications that regulate transcript processing and translation. The role of both, here termed m6A/m, in the stress response in the adult brain in vivo is currently unknown. Here, we provide a detailed analysis of the stress epitranscriptome using m6A/m-seq, global and gene-specific m6A/m measurements. We show that stress exposure and glucocorticoids region and time specifically alter m6A/m and its regulatory network. We demonstrate that deletion of the methyltransferase Mettl3 or the demethylase Fto in adult neurons alters the m6A/m epitranscriptome, increases fear memory, and changes the transcriptome response to fear and synaptic plasticity. Moreover, we report that regulation of m6A/m is impaired in major depressive disorder patients following glucocorticoid stimulation. Our findings indicate that brain m6A/m represents a novel layer of complexity in gene expression regulation after stress and that dysregulation of the m6A/m response may contribute to the pathophysiology of stress-related psychiatric disorders.
Project description:Fat mass and obesity-associated gene (FTO) is a member of the Fe (II)- and oxoglutarate-dependent AlkB dioxygenase family and is linked to both obesity and intellectual disability. The role of FTO in neurodevelopment and neurogenesis, however, remains largely unknown. Here we show that FTO is expressed in adult neural stem cells and neurons and displays dynamic expression during postnatal neurodevelopment. The loss of FTO leads to decreased brain size and body weight. We find that FTO deficiency could reduce the proliferation and neuronal differentiation of adult neural stem cells in vivo, which leads to impaired learning and memory. Given the role of FTO as a demethylase of N6-methyladenosine (m6A), we went on to perform genome-wide m6A profiling and observed dynamic m6A modification during postnatal neurodevelopment. The loss of FTO led to the altered expression of several key components of the brain derived neurotrophic factor pathway that were marked by m6A. These results together suggest FTO plays important roles in neurogenesis, as well as in learning and memory.
Project description:Despite our understanding of the significance of the prefrontal cortex in the consolidation of long-term memories (LTM), its role in the encoding of LTM remains elusive. Here we investigated the role of new protein synthesis in the mouse medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) in encoding contextual fear memory.Because a change in the association of mRNAs to polyribosomes is an indicator of new protein synthesis, we assessed the changes in polyribosome-associated mRNAs in the mPFC following contextual fear conditioning (CFC) in the mouse. Differential gene expression in mPFC was identified by polyribosome profiling (n = 18). The role of new protein synthesis in mPFC was determined by focal inhibition of protein synthesis (n = 131) and by intra-prelimbic cortex manipulation (n = 56) of Homer 3, a candidate identified from polyribosome profiling.We identified several mRNAs that are differentially and temporally recruited to polyribosomes in the mPFC following CFC. Inhibition of protein synthesis in the prelimbic (PL), but not in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) region of the mPFC immediately after CFC disrupted encoding of contextual fear memory. Intriguingly, inhibition of new protein synthesis in the PL 6 hours after CFC did not impair encoding. Furthermore, expression of Homer 3, an mRNA enriched in polyribosomes following CFC, in the PL constrained encoding of contextual fear memory.Our studies identify several molecular substrates of new protein synthesis in the mPFC and establish that encoding of contextual fear memories require new protein synthesis in PL subregion of mPFC.
Project description:Extinction-based exposure therapy is used to treat anxiety- and trauma-related disorders; however, there is the need to improve its limited efficacy in individuals with impaired fear extinction learning and to promote greater protection against return-of-fear phenomena. Here, using 129S1/SvImJ mice, which display impaired fear extinction acquisition and extinction consolidation, we revealed that persistent and context-independent rescue of deficient fear extinction in these mice was associated with enhanced expression of dopamine-related genes, such as dopamine D1 (Drd1a) and -D2 (Drd2) receptor genes in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and amygdala, but not hippocampus. Moreover, enhanced histone acetylation was observed in the promoter of the extinction-regulated Drd2 gene in the mPFC, revealing a potential gene-regulatory mechanism. Although enhancing histone acetylation, via administering the histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitor MS-275, does not induce fear reduction during extinction training, it promoted enduring and context-independent rescue of deficient fear extinction consolidation/retrieval once extinction learning was initiated as shown following a mild conditioning protocol. This was associated with enhanced histone acetylation in neurons of the mPFC and amygdala. Finally, as a proof-of-principle, mimicking enhanced dopaminergic signaling by L-dopa treatment rescued deficient fear extinction and co-administration of MS-275 rendered this effect enduring and context-independent. In summary, current data reveal that combining dopaminergic and epigenetic mechanisms is a promising strategy to improve exposure-based behavior therapy in extinction-impaired individuals by initiating the formation of an enduring and context-independent fear-inhibitory memory.
Project description:It is well established that acute administration of adrenocortical hormones enhances the consolidation of memories of emotional experiences and, concurrently, impairs working memory. These different glucocorticoid effects on these two memory functions have generally been considered to be independently regulated processes. Here we report that a glucocorticoid receptor agonist administered into the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) of male Sprague-Dawley rats both enhances memory consolidation and impairs working memory. Both memory effects are mediated by activation of a membrane-bound steroid receptor and depend on noradrenergic activity within the mPFC to increase levels of cAMP-dependent protein kinase. These findings provide direct evidence that glucocorticoid effects on both memory consolidation and working memory share a common neural influence within the mPFC.
Project description:Background: Extinction-based exposure therapy is used in treating anxiety- and trauma-related disorders, however there is the need to improve its limited efficacy in individuals with impaired fear extinction learning and to facilitate the inadequate protection against return-of-fear phenomena. Methods: Spontaneous recovery and fear renewal tests, assessed persistence and context-independence of treatments rescuing deficient fear extinction in 129S1/SvImJ mice. To reveal neurobiological mechanisms supporting long-lasting extinction rescue, whole-genome expression profiling, qRT-PCR, immunohistochemistry and chromatin immunoprecipitation were used. Results: Persistent and context-independent rescue of deficient fear extinction induced by dietary zinc-restriction was associated with enhanced expression of dopamine-related genes, such as genes encoding the dopamine- D1 (Drd1a) and -D2 (Drd2) receptor in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) and amygdala. Moreover, enhanced histone acetylation was observed in the promoter of the extinction-regulated Drd2 gene in the mPFC, revealing a possibly involved gene regulatory mechanism. While enhancing histone acetylation, via administering the HDAC inhibitor MS275, does not induce successful fear reduction during extinction training, it promoted enduring and context-independent rescue of deficient fear extinction consolidation/retrieval once extinction learning was initiated. This was associated with enhanced neuronal histone acetylation in the mPFC and amygdala. Finally, as a proof of principle, mimicking enhanced dopaminergic signaling by L-dopa treatment rescued deficient fear extinction and co-administration of MS-275 rendered this effect enduring and context-independent. Conclusion: Current data reveal that combining dopaminergic and epigenetic mechanisms is a promising strategy to improve exposure-based behavior therapy in extinction-impaired individuals by initiating the formation of an enduring and context-independent fear inhibitory memory. Overall design: mPFC cells from three zinc dieted mice versus three control mice taken after 2h of fear extinction
Project description:Understanding the mechanisms by which long-term memories are formed and stored in the brain represents a central aim of neuroscience. Prevailing theory suggests that long-term memory encoding involves early plasticity within hippocampal circuits, while reorganization of the neocortex is thought to occur weeks to months later to subserve remote memory storage. Here we report that long-term memory encoding can elicit early transcriptional, structural and functional remodeling of the neocortex. Parallel studies using genome-wide RNA-sequencing, ultrastructural imaging, and whole-cell recording in wild-type mice suggest that contextual fear conditioning initiates a transcriptional program in the medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) that is accompanied by rapid expansion of the synaptic active zone and postsynaptic density, enhanced dendritic spine plasticity, and increased synaptic efficacy. To address the real-time contribution of the mPFC to long-term memory encoding, we performed temporally precise optogenetic inhibition of excitatory mPFC neurons during contextual fear conditioning. Using this approach, we found that real-time inhibition of the mPFC inhibited activation of the entorhinal-hippocampal circuit and impaired the formation of long-term associative memory. These findings suggest that encoding of long-term episodic memory is associated with early remodeling of neocortical circuits, identify the prefrontal cortex as a critical regulator of encoding-induced hippocampal activation and long-term memory formation, and have important implications for understanding memory processing in healthy and diseased brain states. 4 biological replicates per group were analyzed. The material analyzed was medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC; anterior cingulate cortex subregion) from both brain hemispheres, from which total RNA was extracted.