Dynamic regulation of Z-DNA in the mouse prefrontal cortex by the RNA-editing enzyme Adar1 is required for fear extinction.
ABSTRACT: DNA forms conformational states beyond the right-handed double helix; however, the functional relevance of these noncanonical structures in the brain remains unknown. Here we show that, in the prefrontal cortex of mice, the formation of one such structure, Z-DNA, is involved in the regulation of extinction memory. Z-DNA is formed during fear learning and reduced during extinction learning, which is mediated, in part, by a direct interaction between Z-DNA and the RNA-editing enzyme Adar1. Adar1 binds to Z-DNA during fear extinction learning, which leads to a reduction in Z-DNA at sites where Adar1 is recruited. Knockdown of Adar1 leads to an inability to modify a previously acquired fear memory and blocks activity-dependent changes in DNA structure and RNA state-effects that are fully rescued by the introduction of full-length Adar1. These findings suggest a new mechanism of learning-induced gene regulation that is dependent on proteins that recognize alternate DNA structure states, which are required for memory flexibility.
Project description:Theta oscillations are considered crucial mechanisms in neuronal communication across brain areas, required for consolidation and retrieval of fear memories. One form of inhibitory learning allowing adaptive control of fear memory is extinction, a deficit of which leads to maladaptive fear expression potentially leading to anxiety disorders. Behavioral responses after extinction training are thought to reflect a balance of recall from extinction memory and initial fear memory traces. Therefore, we hypothesized that the initial fear memory circuits impact behavioral fear after extinction, and more specifically, that the dynamics of theta synchrony in these pathways signal the individual fear response. Simultaneous multi-channel local field and unit recordings were obtained from the infralimbic prefrontal cortex, the hippocampal CA1 and the lateral amygdala in mice. Data revealed that the pattern of theta coherence and directionality within and across regions correlated with individual behavioral responses. Upon conditioned freezing, units were phase-locked to synchronized theta oscillations in these pathways, characterizing states of fear memory retrieval. When the conditioned stimulus evoked no fear during extinction recall, theta interactions were directional with prefrontal cortical spike firing leading hippocampal and amygdalar theta oscillations. These results indicate that the directional dynamics of theta-entrained activity across these areas guide changes in appraisal of threatening stimuli during fear memory and extinction retrieval. Given that exposure therapy involves procedures and pathways similar to those during extinction of conditioned fear, one therapeutical extension might be useful that imposes artificial theta activity to prefrontal cortical-amygdalo-hippocampal pathways that mimics the directionality signaling successful extinction recall.
Project description:The neuropeptide corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) is released during periods of anxiety and modulates learning and memory formation. One region with particularly dense concentrations of CRF receptors is the basolateral nucleus of the amygdala (BLA), a critical structure for both Pavlovian fear conditioning and fear extinction. While CRF has the potential to modify amygdala-dependent learning, its effect on fear extinction has not yet been assessed. In the present study, we examined the modulatory role of CRF on within-session extinction and fear extinction consolidation. Intra-BLA infusions of the CRF binding protein ligand inhibitor CRF(6-33) which increases endogenous levels of free CRF, or intra-BLA infusions of exogenous CRF made prior to fear extinction learning did not affect either fear expression or within-session extinction learning. However, when these animals were tested twenty-four hours later, drug free, they showed impairments in extinction memory. Conversely, intra-BLA infusions of the CRF receptor antagonist ?-helical CRF(9-41) enhanced memory of fear extinction. These results suggest that increased CRF levels within the BLA at the time of fear extinction learning actively impair the consolidation of long-term fear extinction.
Project description:Neural circuits via which stress leads to disruptions in fear extinction is often explored in animal stress models. Using the single prolonged stress (SPS) model of post traumatic stress disorder and the immediate early gene (IEG) c-Fos as a measure of neural activity, we previously identified patterns of neural activity through which SPS disrupts extinction retention. However, none of these stress effects were specific to fear or extinction learning and memory. C-Jun is another IEG that is sometimes regulated in a different manner to c-Fos and could be used to identify emotional learning/memory specific patterns of neural activity that are sensitive to SPS. Animals were either fear conditioned (CS-fear) or presented with CSs only (CS-only) then subjected to extinction training and testing. C-Jun was then assayed within neural substrates critical for extinction memory. Inhibited c-Jun levels in the hippocampus (Hipp) and enhanced functional connectivity between the ventromedial prefrontal cortex (vmPFC) and basolateral amygdala (BLA) during extinction training was disrupted by SPS in the CS-fear group only. As a result, these effects were specific to emotional learning/memory. SPS also disrupted inhibited Hipp c-Jun levels, enhanced BLA c-Jun levels, and altered functional connectivity among the vmPFC, BLA, and Hipp during extinction testing in SPS rats in the CS-fear and CS-only groups. As a result, these effects were not specific to emotional learning/memory. Our findings suggest that SPS disrupts neural activity specific to extinction memory, but may also disrupt the retention of fear extinction by mechanisms that do not involve emotional learning/memory.
Project description:Fear extinction is an active learning process whereby previously established conditioned responses to a conditioned stimulus are suppressed. Paradoxically, when extinction training is performed immediately following fear acquisition, the extinction memory is weakened. Here, we demonstrate that corticotrophin-releasing factor (CRF)-expressing neurons in the central amygdala (CeA) antagonize the extinction memory following immediate extinction training. CeA-CRF neurons transition from responding to the unconditioned stimulus to the conditioned stimulus during the acquisition of a fear memory that persists during immediate extinction training, but diminishes during delayed extinction training. Inhibition of CeA-CRF neurons during immediate extinction training is sufficient to promote enhanced extinction memories, and activation of these neurons following delay extinction training is sufficient to reinstate a previously extinguished fear memory. These results demonstrate CeA-CRF neurons are an important substrate for the persistence of fear and have broad implications for the neural basis of persistent negative affective behavioral states.
Project description:In classical fear conditioning, a neutral conditioned stimulus (CS) is paired with an aversive unconditioned stimulus (US), which leads to a fear memory. If the CS is repeatedly presented without the US after fear conditioning, the formation of an extinction memory occurs, which inhibits fear memory expression. A previous study has demonstrated that selective cholinergic lesions in the medial septum and vertical limb of the diagonal bands of Broca (MS/vDBB) prior to fear and extinction learning disrupt contextual fear memory discrimination and acquisition of extinction memory. MS/vDBB cholinergic neurons project to a number of substrates that are critical for fear and extinction memory. However, it is currently unknown which of these efferent projections are critical for contextual fear memory discrimination and extinction memory. To address this, we induced cholinergic lesions in efferent targets of MS/vDBB cholinergic neurons. These included the dorsal hippocampus (dHipp), ventral hippocampus (vHipp), medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and in the mPFC and dHipp combined. None of these lesion groups exhibited deficits in contextual fear memory discrimination or extinction memory. However, vHipp cholinergic lesions disrupted auditory fear memory. Because MS/vDBB cholinergic neurons are the sole source of acetylcholine in the vHipp, these results suggest that MS/vDBB cholinergic input to the vHipp is critical for auditory fear memory. Taken together with previous findings, the results of this study suggest that MS/vDBB cholinergic neurons are critical for fear and extinction memory, though further research is needed to elucidate the role of MS/vDBB cholinergic neurons in these types of emotional memory.
Project description:Long-noncoding RNA (lncRNA) comprise a new class of genes that have been assigned key roles in development and disease. Many lncRNAs are specifically transcribed in the brain where they regulate the expression of protein-coding genes that underpin neuronal function; however, their role in learning and memory remains largely unexplored. We used RNA Capture-Seq to identify a large population of lncRNAs that are expressed in the infralimbic cortex of adult male mice in response to fear-related learning, with 14.5% of these annotated in the GENCODE database as lncRNAs with no known function. We combined these data with cell-type-specific ATAC-seq on neurons that had been selectively activated by fear-extinction learning, and discovered 434 lncRNAs derived from enhancer regions in the vicinity of protein-coding genes. We found a novel experience-induced lncRNA called ADRAM that acts as both a scaffold and a combinatorial guide to recruit the brain-enriched chaperone protein 14-3-3 to the promoter of the memory-associated immediate early gene Nr4a2. This leads to the expulsion of histone deactylases 3 and 4, and the recruitment of the histone acetyltransferase creb binding protein, which drives learning-induced Nr4a2 expression. Knockdown of ADRAM disrupts this interaction, blocks the expression of Nr4a2, and ultimately impairs the formation of fear-extinction memory. This study expands the lexicon of experience-dependent lncRNA activity in the brain, highlights enhancer-derived RNAs (eRNAs) as key players in the epigenetic regulation of gene expression associated with fear extinction, and suggests eRNAs, such as ADRAM, may constitute viable targets in developing novel treatments for fear-related anxiety disorders. Overall design: lncRNA capture sequencing and ATAC-seq for RC and EXT mice
Project description:PTSD has been associated consistently with abnormalities in fear acquisition and extinction learning and retention. Fear acquisition refers to learning to discriminate between threat and safety cues. Extinction learning reflects the formation of a new inhibitory-memory that competes with a previously learned threat-related memory. Adjudicating the competition between threat memory and the new inhibitory memory during extinction may rely, in part, on cognitive processes such as working memory (WM). Despite significant shared neural circuits and signaling pathways the relationship between WM, fear acquisition, and extinction is poorly understood. Here, we analyzed data from a large sample of healthy Marines who underwent an assessment battery including tests of fear acquisition, extinction learning, and WM (N-back). Fear potentiated startle (FPS), fear expectancy ratings, and self-reported anxiety served as the primary dependent variables. High WM ability (N = 192) was associated with greater CS + fear inhibition during the late block of extinction and greater US expectancy change during extinction learning compared to individuals with low WM ability (N = 204). WM ability was not associated with magnitude of fear conditioning/expression. Attention ability was unrelated to fear acquisition or extinction supporting specificity of WM associations with extinction. These results support the conclusion that individual differences in WM may contribute to regulating fear responses.
Project description:The neural crest gives rise to numerous cell types, dysfunction of which contributes to many disorders. Here, we report that adenosine deaminase acting on RNA (ADAR1), responsible for adenosine-to-inosine editing of RNA, is required for regulating the development of two neural crest derivatives: melanocytes and Schwann cells. Neural crest specific conditional deletion of Adar1 in mice leads to global depigmentation and absence of myelin from peripheral nerves, resulting from alterations in melanocyte survival and differentiation of Schwann cells, respectively. Upregulation of interferon stimulated genes precedes these defects, which are associated with the triggering of a signature resembling response to injury in peripheral nerves. Simultaneous extinction of MDA5, a key sensor of unedited RNA, rescues both melanocytes and myelin defects in vitro, suggesting that ADAR1 safeguards neural crest derivatives from aberrant MDA5-mediated interferon production. We thus extend the landscape of ADAR1 function to the fields of neural crest development and disease.
| S-EPMC6954203 | BioStudies
Project description:Dynamic DNA structure states interact with the RNA editing enzyme ADAR1 to modulate fear extinction memory
Project description:The cerebellum is critically involved in the formation of associative fear memory and in subsequent extinction learning. Fear conditioning is associated with a long-term potentiation at both excitatory and inhibitory synapses onto Purkinje cells. We therefore tested whether fear conditioning unmasks novel forms of synaptic plasticity, which enable subsequent extinction learning to reset cerebellar circuitry. We found that fear learning enhanced GABA release from molecular layer interneurons and this was reversed after fear extinction learning. Importantly an extinction-like stimulation of parallel fibers after fear learning is sufficient to induce a lasting decrease in inhibitory transmission (I-LTD<sub>stim</sub>) in the cerebellar cortex, a form of plasticity that is absent in naïve animals. While NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors are required for the formation and extinction of associative memory, the role of GluN2D, one of the four major NMDA receptor subunits, in learning and memory has not been determined. We found that fear conditioning elevates spontaneous GABA release in GluN2D KO as shown in WT mice. Deletion of GluN2D, however, abolished the I-LTD<sub>stim</sub> induced by parallel fiber stimulation after learning. At the behavioral level, genetic deletion of GluN2D subunits did not affect associative learning and memory retention, but impaired subsequent fear extinction learning. D-cycloserine, a partial NMDA receptor (NMDAR) agonist, failed to rescue extinction learning in mutant mice. Our results identify GluN2D as a critical NMDAR subunit for extinction learning and reveal a form of GluN2D-dependent metaplasticity that is associated with extinction in the cerebellum.